Danny Diekroeger broke the State College record by extending his hitting streak to 19 consecutive games as the Spikes held off Mahoning Valley 4-3 in New York-Penn League baseball action on Monday at Eastwood Field.
Diekroeger’s infield single was part of a decisive three-run fourth inning that helped propel the Spikes (42-27) past the Scrappers (30-38). The triumph pulled the Spikes within a game of Tri-City (43-26) for the No. 2 playoff seed and within two games of Hudson Valley (44-25) for the top seed. The Spikes have seven games remaining in the regular season.
Diekroeger, who finished 1 for 4, moved past Brian Friday’s previous club record of 18 games, set during the 2007 season. Diekroeger is hitting 26 for 83 (.313) during the streak.
The Spikes opened the scoring in the top of the third. Chase Raffield led off with a double to right and scored on a single to center by Luis Cruz. They eventually loaded the bases in the frame, but could not score.
An inning later, State College would tack on three runs. Jake Stone reached on an error to open the inning. One out later, Chase Raffield walked and both runners moved up on a passed ball. Cruz then singled to center to plate Stone and make it 2-0, while Raffield held at second.
Jhohan Acevedo singled to load the bases and Darren Seferina lofted a sacrifice fly to center to plate Raffield. Diekroeger then got his record-breaking infield single in the hole at shortstop to load the bases again. Nick Thompson then drew a walk to score Cruz with what would become the game-winning run.
Mahoning Valley scrapped back against State College starter Trey Nielsen. Francisco Mejia blasted a homer over the right-center field fence to lead off the fourth.
Nielsen hit Greg Allen and walked Steven Patterson before was pulled with one out in the fifth. Bradley Zimmer greeted reliever Brandon Lee with a two-run triple to center, but Lee struck out Mejia and got Leo Castillo on a grounder to get out of the jam.
From there, the State College bullpen held off the Scrappers on three hits over the final four innings. Lee (4-2) allowed just the triple in his 2 1/3 innings of relief. Nick Lomascolo allowed a hit and struck out three in 1 1/3 innings. Kyle Grana allowed a hit in closing out the final inning for his seventh save.
Cruz had two singles to pace the Spikes’ seven-hit attack. Zimmer had two of the Scrappers’ six hits.
The two-game series concludes Tuesday night at Eastwood Park.
Note: The Pittsburgh Pirates announced Monday that they are moving their NYPL franchise from Jamestown, N.Y., to Morgantown, W. Va., for the 2015 season. The affiliate had been located in State College from 2006 to 2012 until the Spikes management switched its affiliation to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates then moved their affiliation to Jamestown for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Like the arrangement it had at University Park with Penn State, the Pirates’ new Class A short-season team will share a ballpark with West Virginia University baseball team. The Jammers rank last in NYPL attendance, averaging 751 fans per game.