It could have been a quick inning for State College starting pitcher Will Anderson.
He forced ground ball after ground ball to start the top of the third, but the Spikes’ defense crumbled. State College committed three errors and failed to come up with three other plays within reach in a costly five-run inning against Batavia.
The Spikes imploded defensively in their 7-3 loss to the Muckdogs on Wednesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
“That type of play, I don’t care the level, that’s unacceptable,” Spikes manager Oliver Marmol said. “A lot of games should go by before we see that again.”
State College finished with four errors and couldn’t overcome the mistakes as the Spikes went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Anderson, who committed the first error in the third, allowed six runs (one earned) in five innings to take the loss.
Spikes first baseman Jake Stone drilled a two-run home run off the batters’ eye in dead-center field to give State College a 2-0 lead in the first.
But the lead disappeared in the disastrous third inning.
Batavia’s Hiram Martinez led off with a single that sneaked under a sliding attempt by Stone at first base. Ryan Aper then beat out a high bouncer in front of home plate.
State College then quickly unraveled.
Muckdogs second baseman Mason Davis grounded back to Anderson, who knocked it down and bounced a throw toward second for the team’s first error to load the bases. Anderson forced Aaron Blanton to roll a ground ball to shortstop Andrew Sohn, but second baseman Robelys Reyes dropped the throw to second to botch the potential double play.
One run scored, the bases remained loaded and State College was still looking for its first out.
“Any other day, we make those outs and that should have been a 1-2-3 inning,” Marmol said. “It turned into a five-run inning.”
Carlos Duran sent a chopper up the middle that handcuffed Sohn and rolled into center field for a two-run single to push Batavia in front 3-2. The Muckdogs extended the lead to two runs on a groundout before benefiting from Reyes’ second error of the inning — bobbling a ground ball to second — to add the fifth run of the inning.
Batavia led 5-2.
“When your infield makes errors, you’ve got to throw more pitches,” Anderson said. “The inning just kind of drags on and you kind of get that what if, what’s going to happen next? You just have to put it behind yourself and keep working through it.”
The Spikes couldn’t recover from the rough inning as they struggled at the plate.
Trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the fifth, State College had runners on first and second with one out.
But the Spikes failed to cut into the deficit against Batavia starter Andy Beltre, who went five innings and allowed three runs on six hits. Stone struck out swinging at a breaking ball. Cleanup hitter Nick Thompson followed suit, swinging over a breaking ball to end the State College threat.
Thompson came to the plate with two outs and teammates on first and third in the seventh, but he grounded out to second base. With second and third and two outs in the eighth, Jhohan Acevedo struck out looking.
The Spikes left nine on base in the contest.
“It felt like we left our approach a little bit at times, especially with runners in scoring position kind of chasing that ball down and out a good bit,” Marmol said. “We couldn’t really string it together and come up with the big hit there.”
But the focus was on the Spikes’ defensive breakdown after the loss. The singles to start the inning, and the chopper up the middle that gave Batavia the lead could have been outs.
Instead, they fueled a big inning for the Muckdogs.
“It was definitely difficult seeing it go that way,” Sohn said. “You just got to bounce back though. You got to wipe it from your memory and try to do that the rest of the game.”
Marmol wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance Wednesday night, but he expects to see the Spikes bounce back moving forward.
“These guys are going to play good baseball,” Marmol said. “Tonight wasn’t one of those days.”
Notes: Danny Diekroeger and Chase Raffield each recorded hits in their professional debuts for the Spikes. Diekroeger went 2-for-5, and Raffield finished 1-for-4 Jeff Rauh struck out four and allowed one run in two innings of relief for State College. Dewin Perez will start for State College in its final game of its series against Batavia on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. Perez earned the win in the season opener against Williamsport, giving up just one hit in five innings. Jose Adames (0-0, 3.60 ERA) will be on the mound for the Muckdogs. State College will go on the road for four games, taking on Jamestown Friday and Saturday before traveling to Batavia for games Sunday and Monday.