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Spikes reliever delivers a special pre-game pitch

Spikes pitcher Cory Malcom surprised his unsuspecting girlfriend Kayla Turner with his pre-game proposal.
Spikes pitcher Cory Malcom surprised his unsuspecting girlfriend Kayla Turner with his pre-game proposal.

Spikes righthanded pitcher Cory Malcom sat behind home plate and waited for his unsuspecting girlfriend Kayla Turner to throw out one of the first pitches before Sunday’s game against the Auburn Doubledays.

In Malcom’s back pockets were two big surprises for Turner, an engagement ring in the right and a ball with the words, ‘Will you marry me?’ written on it in the left. After Turner tossed in the pitch, Malcom met her at the mound.

“I went out there, gave her a hug and kiss, pulled out a ball out of my left pocket that said will you marry me,” the 23-year-old said. “She basically just said, ‘Are you serious?’ about 100 times. So I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me and that’s all she wrote.”

Malcom wasn’t expected to come into the game because of the emotional day, but the teams were both scoreless after nine innings and Malcom came in to pitch the 10th for the Spikes.

He gave up two runs (one earned), but State College rallied for three runs in the bottom of the inning to claim a 3-2 victory and make sure Malcom went home with two wins on the day.

“It was definitely a good walk-off win,” Malcom said. “It was an emotional roller-coaster most of the day, and they decided to put me in the 10th inning to make it even more emotional. It was good. I didn’t pitch the best, but we ended up winning and that’s all that matters.”

The Cardinals selected Malcom in the 34th round last year out of Arkansas Little-Rock. Turner played soccer at Little Rock, and the shared athletic connection gave Malcom the idea of proposing at the ballpark.

State College had more than 3,600 fans in attendance for Sunday’s game at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, and Malcom admitted the crowd made things a little bit more nerve-wracking.

“I think the crowd made me a little bit more nervous than I should have been,” he said. “I was stuttering and I kind of blacked out.”

It was worth it, though.

“She supports me through everything and it was just a big ordeal,” he said. “I wanted to do it front of a lot of people because I think she deserves it, and she deserves the world, so I wanted to give it to her and give her that surprise.”

State College alums make MLB history

Former Spike Daniel Poncedeleon made his MLB debut on Monday for the St. Louis Cardinals, becoming the 54th State College player to make it to the majors.

Poncedeleon pitched seven hitless innings for the Cardinals. He was the first pitcher in MLB history to toss seven shutout innings without allowing a hit in his major league debut. Poncedeleon also became the sixth pitcher since 1965 to carry a no-hitter into the seventh in their first career MLB start. The 26-year-old couldn’t continue past the seventh after totaling 116 pitches.

The next day Austin Gomber, who pitched on the same staff as Poncedeleon with the Spikes in 2014, made his first career start with the Cardinals. Gomber tossed six hitless innings before his no-hit bid was broken up in the seventh inning. The lefthander has pitched 20.2 innings for the Cardinals this season, but his previous 15 appearances came out of the bullpen.

After he was selected by the Cardinals in the ninth round in 2014, Poncedeleon pitched in 18 games for State College. He went 3-3 with a 2.44 ERA, striking out 52 batters in 44.1 innings pitched. Gomber was a fourth-round selection in 2014 out of Florida Atlantic. He went 2-2 with a 2.30 ERA, tallying 76 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched.

Gomber and Poncedeleon aren’t the only former Spikes to take no-hitters into the seventh inning this season. Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Nick Kingham, who pitched for State College in 2011, tossed 6.2 hitless innings against the Cardinals on April 29 in his first big league start.

What’s On Deck?

The Spikes (14-23) dropped back to the bottom of the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney division after their series loss to Connecticut. They’ll continue their road trip against the Stedler division’s Lowell Spinners (21-17) this weekend.

Spinners’ second baseman Jarren Duran is second in the league with a .351 average. The Red Sox’ seventh-round pick out of Long Beach State has five doubles, nine triples and a home run in 32 games. Outfielders Tyler Dearden and Delvin Granberg are also batting better than .300 for Lowell with 18 combined extra base hits between the two.

The Spinners also have two of the Red Sox Top 30 prospects according to Outfielder Cole Brannen is currently ranked the Red Sox’ No. 6 overall prospect. Last year’s second round pick is hitting .256 for the Spinners. The organization’s No. 19 prospect, Tyler Esplin, is hitting .217 with four doubles, four triples and three home runs.