State College Spikes: Pitchers fuel perfect homestand

It wasn’t a slugfest of any sort, but then again neither was the entire series.

After jumping out to an early lead in the third inning, State College allowed Vermont to draw even in the fifth, before regaining the lead again in the bottom half of the sixth en route to a 3-1 victory and a three-game series sweep Sunday.

They did it in typical Spikes’ fashion of late — grinding it out until the end and limiting their foes’ run production — giving their batters an opportunity to come alive.

All series long, the Spikes’ starting pitchers were effective before turning the ball over to a nearly perfect bullpen and Sunday was no different. Nick Petree started on the mound for the Spikes and went five strong innings, while only surrendering four hits and a run.

“Petree did well, he wished he could have located his fastball better, but he did a nice job,” Spikes manager Oliver Marmol said. “He fell behind on a couple hitters, but still made pitches to get out of it. He gave us a strong vibe. He’s a competitor. He’s a guy when you give the ball to him, you know he’s going to do a nice job.”

The bullpen once again shut the door on the Lake Monsters and did not allow a run the rest of the game. Jhonny Polanco (2-2) picked up the win and Michael Aldrete earned his first save of the season.

With solid bullpen backing, the Spikes’ starters know that if they can handle their business the team will be in a good position to win.

“Really that’s just a mindset right there,” Petree said. “Just kind of getting it to our bullpen with the game within reach or ahead and I think as starters if we can do that, then we have a really good chance of winning.”

While the pitching has been dominant during the homestand, in which the Spikes won all six games, run production has been limited, especially against the Lake Monsters.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Spikes got some help from a few Vermont blunders. With one out, Carson Kelly singled to center field and was able to advance to second on a wild pitch. He would later come around to score the game-winning run after a throwing error by Lake Monsters’ shortstop Luis Baez.

Steven Ramos and Mason Katz led the Spikes with two hits each, while Jimmy Bosco and Luke Voit each chimed in with an RBI and a hit.

While runs have been sparce of late, Marmol is pleased with his club’s ability to generate scoring from top to bottom in the lineup.

“It’s good, you never know who’s going to do it,” Marmol said. “It’s great when everybody kind of clicks on one night and you score 13 runs, but the last two series we’ve just come up with some big hits. (Sunday) Katz came up with some nice hits. You never know who it’s going to be, but it’s nice to know that somebody’s going to pick somebody up at some point during the game.”

With the win on Sunday, the Spikes improved to 19-6 at home this season — the best home record in the New York-Penn League. They will now gear up for a six-game road trip in New York, starting with a three-game series at Staten Island on Tuesday, followed by a series at Brooklyn over the weekend.