With one swing, the State College Spikes could erase the frustration of the first three innings and snap their scoreless innings streak.
The count was 3-2 and the bases were loaded with two outs in the fourth inning for State College’s Jeremy Martinez. Mahoning Valley starting pitcher Triston McKenzie delivered the pitch, and Martinez struck out swinging to end the threat.
Scrappers catcher Gian Paul Gonzalez gave a fist pump when the pitch hit his glove to maintain his team’s two-run lead. State College’s Jose Martinez hit his helmet on second base as the frustration grew and the Spikes’ scoreless innings streak reached 26.
State College ended its scoring drought, but fell to Mahoning Valley 7-4 on Thursday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Spikes were coming off back-to-back shutout losses to Connecticut, and they continued to struggle against the Scrappers (9-18). The Spikes left 13 on base and finished 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position Thursday.
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“We had the opportunities and then we couldn’t find a hole,” Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez said.
The Spikes (18-9) had opportunities in each of the first four innings.
They loaded the bases with two outs in the first, but Josh Swirchak flew out to right field. They had first and second with no outs in the second, but Anthony Ray popped out on a bunt attempt. A strikeout and groundout ensured State College came up empty again.
“Our guys couldn’t execute certain little things offensively,” Rodriguez said.
In the third, the Spikes put pressure on McKenzie with two outs.
After Ricardo Bautista doubled and Swirchak drew a walk, Elier Rodriguez faced a 3-0 count. But McKenzie recovered to strike out Rodriguez with his next three pitches.
State College’s Mick Fennell and Ray started the fourth inning with back-to-back singles. Tommy Edman then walked to load the bases with no outs.
Jose Martinez sent a slow ground ball to Mahoning Valley first baseman Nate Winfrey, who made the throw home on the run to get the first out and keep the Spikes off the board. Dylan Tice then lined out to Winfrey, leaving the bases loaded for Jeremy Martinez.
Jeremy Martinez battled from an 0-2 hole to work a full count.
But McKenzie fired a pitch past Martinez to keep the shutout alive.
The Spikes couldn’t get a big hit during the scoreless streak.
“That doesn’t bother me,” Rodriguez said. “Those things are going to happen.”
Jeremy Martinez helped end the Spikes’ scoreless innings streak at 28.
After Dylan Tice singled in the seventh, Martinez doubled to right field. Bautista then grounded out to second to drive in State College’s first run.
A pair of triples powered Mahoning Valley’s offense.
The Scrappers got on the board when Silento Sayles hammered an RBI triple to left-center field in the third inning.
With two outs in the seventh inning, Yonathan Mendoza sent a three-run triple to center field, part of a five-run inning for the Scrappers.
The Spikes brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, but Vince Jackson flew out to end the game.
State College couldn’t recover from Mahoning Valley’s five-run seventh inning against reliever Greg Tomchick.
“We lost the game in the seventh inning,” Rodriguez said.
Spikes pitcher John Kilichowski allowed two runs (one earned) in five innings to take the loss for State College.
Mid Penn product joins team: Infielders Matt Davis and Andy Young joined the Spikes on Thursday.
Davis, a Mechanicsburg native and Cumberland Valley grad, signed with the Cardinals on Thursday. He was playing for the Brewster Whitecaps and leading the Cape Cod League with seven home runs. Davis hit .300 during his three-year career at Virginia Commonwealth.
Young earned the promotion after hitting .323 with five RBIs in 11 games for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. The Indiana State product was St. Louis’ 37th-round pick in this year’s draft.
State College: Carson Cross (2-2, 3.82 ERA) is set to start for the Spikes when the series continues at 7:05 p.m. Friday.
Mahoning Valley: For the Scrappers, Juan Hillman (2-0, 1.03) will be on the mound Friday. Hillman has not allowed a run in 20 1/3 innings in his last four starts.