The The State College Spikes’ pitchers were hitting their spots Friday night.
John Kilichowski and Dewan Perez combined on a seven-hit shutout to give the team its first shutout win of the season, 3-0 over the Auburn Doubledays, at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Kilichowski scattered five hits over five innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
“I wouldn’t say it was the easiest win I’ve had,” said Kilichowski (1-0) after his first pro win. “There were some pitches there that weren’t necessarily on perfectly, but I think that’s pitching every time.”
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Perez took care of the final four innings, allowing just two hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
Neither pitcher allowed a runner to reach third base.
Manager Johnny Rodriguez said Perez worked four innings to prepare him to start his next outing on July 13.
Kilichowski was working with a limit of 60 pitches or a maximum of five innings. The 11th-round draft pick this spring out of Vanderbilt had not worked deep into a game since late May.
“The good thing about him, he didn’t pitch a lot at Vanderbilt,” Rodriguez said. “He competes. … He’s not full strength yet. He gets on that mound, you have a feeling that he’s in control.”
Kilichowski had to deal with runners on base in his last four innings, but managed to stay out of trouble.
“Out of the stretch I was able to really have a good attack with my fastball,” said Kilichowski, who was assisted by two double plays behind him on defense. “It was strong and at the bottom of the zone.”
The mound work overshadowed the efforts of the Doubledays’ four hurlers, led by starter A.J. Bogucki, who were equally as effective. They combined to allow seven hits with eight strikeouts and four walks.
State College strung together three straight singles in the first inning by Jose Martinez, Vince Jackson and Ryan McCarvel, with the last one from the first baseman driving in a run. Jeremy Martinez then bounced into a double play to prevent more scoring.
The 1-0 lead lasted until the Spikes added two in the seventh, with Jose Martinez drawing a walk before Jackson doubled to the right-center gap. Both scored when Jeremy Martinez hit a slow roller down the third-base line that was thrown away by Auburn pitcher Phil Morse.
Taking time off
Friday’s game followed the first off day of the season for the Spikes. They had taken 2 of 3 from Tri-City before the rest, and have won 13 of their last 16.
“We went to the mall, we went to go see a movie, we ate pretty good and laid down,” said Jackson, who was 2 for 4 Friday. “I tried to get off my feet a little bit.”
Rodriguez gave some pretty strict instructions to his team.
“I said, ‘Nobody show up to the park — don’t even come close,” said Rodriguez, who thought his team was refreshed mentally and physically. “We played 20 straight games, and two practices, 22 straight days on the field. … Right off the bat, some of these college kids haven’t done that.”
“We’re used to a college season, we’re not used to a professional season,” Jackson said. “Playing every single day — we love playing, but that day off was definitely worth it.”
News and notes
Nice arm: In the third inning, Auburn’s Jake Sundberg tried to stretch to third base on a Blake Perkins single, but rightfielder Ricardo Bautista gunned Sundberg down at third base, with the throw easily beating the runner. Rivera has thrown out four runners already this season, including two at home plate, after gunning down seven runners last season.
“He strikes out three times but he’s a difference-maker with his arm strength,” Rodriguez said. “… I knew they hadn’t seen his arm because in infield (practice) today he didn’t show it off.”
Roster moves: Catcher Chris Rivera was promoted to High A Palm Beach on Thursday. Meanwhile, pitcher Robby Rowland will join the team on Saturday on a rehabilitation assignment from higher up in the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league organization. The right-hander has not pitched this season, his sixth in the minors.
Auburn: The Doubledays will hit the field for Game 2 of the series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday with Yonathan Ramirez on the mound. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings.
State College: The Spikes will send right-hander Carson Cross (1-2) to the mound. He has a 4.38 ERA, pitching 24 2/3 innings over four games.