State College Spikes looking for answer to road woes

If you want to move up in minor league baseball, you better make yourself stand out.

Right now, getting a few hits on the road for State College should do the trick.

The Spikes have lost the last eight games on the road and haven’t won away from Medlar Field at Lubrano Park since beating Williamsport 3-1 on July 3 at Bowman Field.

“Can’t put my finger on it completely,” said Spikes’ manager Oliver Marmol. “It’s nothing you get on the guys for. There’s a point where you might have to, but these guys are preparing themselves well. We’re happy to be home, but we’re also looking forward to our next road trip because it’s another test.”

The New York-Penn League is a developmental destination, but Marmol and others in the St. Louis Cardinals organization have not shied from saying development and winning need not be mutually exclusive.

The Spikes entered Friday hitting .322 at home (11-6) and just .238 on the road (7-12).

“It’s different just in that the routine (on the road) is different,” said first baseman David Washington, the Spikes’ leader in RBIs and home runs. “But I think it’s all about getting the right mindset and getting prepared for the game regardless of where you are. There’s no excuses. You have to be able to get ready for the game.”

Typically at home, Washington said the Spikes hit early in the day, take batting practice later and then hit again in the indoor batting cages just before game time. On the road, those opportunities can be scarce.

State College is coming off an anemic offensive series that resulted in a three-game sweep by Mahoning Valley, a team the Spikes trounced at home earlier this month.

After 41 hits and 28 runs against the Scrappers at home, the Spikes were outhit 23-10 and struck out 30 times in Ohio. After batting .297 with runners in scoring position on the year, State College went a combined 2-for-22 in the series.

Carson Kelly is hitting .367 at home, but .194 away. Bruce Caldwell is hitting .467 at home and .151 on the road. Add Washington to the club at .217 on the road with just six RBIs, compared to.355 at home with 23 RBIs.

A few buck the trend, however.

Steven Ramos leads the league in hitting (.376) and his .365 average on the road leads the team. His .390 average at home is second only to Caldwell. Jimmy Bosco hits .311 on the road and .323 at home.

For context, Pinckney Division leader Jamestown (23-13) hits .293 at home in Russell Diethrick Park and .283 on the road.

The top teams in the NY-PL have double-digit wins on the road.

Tri-City (26-12), who owns the league’s best record, is 13-5 on the road. Hudson Valley’s 13-6 road record is why the Renegades (21-17) lead the McNamara Division.

The Spikes will get another chance on Sunday when they travel to Batavia for a two-game set with the Muckdogs.

“You can’t let it get in your head,” Washington said. “I think it’s kind of starting to do that on the road like ‘oh no we’re on the road and we haven’t won in awhile.’ We just have to go back to attacking like it’s a normal game because it is.”