State College couldn’t figure out Hudson Valley starting pitcher Enderson Franco the second time around.
A little more than a month after Franco baffled the Spikes during the regular season, the right-hander turned in a dominant effort to open the New York-Penn League playoffs, leading third-seeded Hudson Valley past second-seeded State College 3-0 in the first game of a best-of-three semifinal series Wednesday night at Dutchess Stadium. Franco threw seven innings, allowing five hits while striking out eight and walking none to earn the win. Edgar Gomez pitched the final two innings to pick up the save.
State College starter Daniel Poncedeleon gave up three runs (one earned) on six hits in five innings to take the loss. He also struck out six and walked two.
The Spikes host Game 2 against Hudson Valley at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. If necessary, the third game will also be at Medlar Field.
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Hudson Valley took scored all three of its runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Poncedeleon allowed a leadoff single to Wilmer Dominguez. After a sacrifice bunt, Braxton Lee reached base on a throwing error by State College third baseman Brett Wiley. A walk loaded the bases and a wild pitch by Poncedeleon allowed Dominguez to score.
Hudson Valley led 1-0.
The Renegades pushed their lead to 3-0 on a two-out, two-run single to right field by Grant Kay.
It was more than enough support for Franco.
The Spikes’ chances were limited against Franco as they were in their first matchup against the right-hander.
Franco went seven innings and allowed two runs in a victory over the Spikes on Aug. 2, part of a three-game sweep by the Renegades.
On Wednesday, the Spikes went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
Their best chance to get on the board came after Alex De Leon’s leadoff double in the seventh inning.
But the Spikes couldn’t cut into the deficit. Franco struck out Wiley before getting a groundout by Robelys Reyes and a flyout by Chase Raffield to end the inning with De Leon stranded at third.
Gomez allowed one hit in the final two innings to seal Hudson Valley’s win.
Notes: Top-seeded Tri-City beat Connecticut 3-2 in 11 innings in the first game of the other semifinal series. The ValleyCats and Tigers will play Game 2 on Thursday at 7 p.m. ... Spikes ace Will Anderson (6-2, 2.43) is set to pitch Thursday against Hudson Valley right-hander Hunter Wood (3-4, 3.08).