A fast start fueled Connecticut and was the difference as reeling State College suffered another loss.
The Tigers scored three times in the first inning and four pitchers made those runs hold up in a 3-1 New York-Penn League baseball triumph over the Spikes at Dodd Stadium.
State College (33-22) lost its third straight and its eighth in its last 10 games. The Spikes managed just six hits against the Tigers (29-26) and had their Pinckney Division lead cut to seven games over Williamsport.
The contest couldn’t have begun much worse for State College starter Daniel Poncedeleon (1-3).
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Rashad Brown led off with a single and raced home on Will Maddox’s double to right field. Ross Kivett followed with a RBI double to right to plate Maddox and make the score 2-0. Kivett advanced to third on Joseph Pancake’s single and scored on Michael Gerber’s sacrifice fly to left, the first out of the inning.
From there on, Poncedeleon, Jacob Booden and Brandon Lee blanked Connecticut on three hits. Poncedeleon’s five innings of work was a season-high.
The Spikes’ hitters also struggled over the final eight innings against A.J. Ladwig, Conferor Lara, Josh Laxer and Gabe Hemmer.
They finally cracked through for a run in the sixth against Laxer. Robelys Reyes led off with a single and moved to second on Danny Diekroeger’s infileld single.
The Spikes then tried a double-steal, but Diekroeger was gunned down by catcher Franklin Navarro at second. Nick Thompson delivered Reyes with a two-out single to left field.
From there, the Spikes went hitless. Their only baserunner came in the ninth as Chase Raffield struck out, but reached when the wild pitch eluded Navarro.
The misfortune did not bother Hemmer, who struck out two of the next three batters, including an irate Jake Stone looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
Nick Thompson had two hits for the Spikes, who have struggled since power-hitting Rowan Wick was promoted on July 23. State College is 6-10 since Wick, who had 14 homers and 38 RBIs, was moved to Class A Peoria.
State College is averaging two runs per game in its last eight losses. The Spikes were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position Saturday.
Maddox and Pancake each had two hits for the Tigers. Laxer, who allowed four hits and a run in four innings of relief, picked up the win. Hemmer lowered his ERA to 0.93 in picking up his second save.
The second game of the three-game series is at 4 p.m. Sunday. Right-hander Trey Nielsen (3-2, 1.32 ERA) will start for the Spikes and right-hander Chase Edwards (4-3, 3.16) will go for the Tigers.
Four Spikes make All-Star team
Shortstop Reyes, second baseman Darren Seferina, starting pitcher Will Anderson and reliever Kyle Grana have been named to the South squad for the New York-Penn League All-Star Game, slated for Aug. 19 at MCU Park in Brooklyn.
Reyes is hitting .287 with two home runs and 22 RBIs. He is tied for the team lead in with Seferina with 12 stolen bases.
Seferina is hitting .289 with six doubles and 7 RBIs. He has helped the Spikes turn 45 double plays this season.
Anderson is 5-1 with a 2.22 ERA, which is third-best in the league. Anderson, a right-hander, has struck out 43 and walked just eight in 52 2/3 innings.
Grana, a hard-throwing right-hander, is 3-2 with four saves and a 1.17 ERA in 18 appearances. His total of 48 strikeouts entering Saturday’s play was fourth best in the league.
The Spikes players will join all-stars from Aberdeen, Brooklyn, Jamestown, Mahoning Valley and Williamsport on the South squad. Players from Auburn, Batavia, Connecticut, Hudson Valley, Lowell, Tri-City and Vermont make up the North squad.