The State College Spikes managed just two hits in their 7-2 loss to the Connecticut Tigers on Thursday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Connecticut starter Spenser Watkins limited State College to one hit and one run in five innings. He also struck out four and walked three. Connecticut reliever Drew Smith pitched three no-hit innings of relief, and reliever Jack Fischer allowed one run on one hit in the ninth.
Casey Grayson recorded State College’s first hit with a double in the second inning, extending his on-base streak to 18 games and his hitting streak to nine games. Cole Lankford doubled with two outs in the ninth, driving in a run on the Spikes’ second hit.
“We just didn’t have a good approach,” Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez said. “Bats were slow. We weren’t as aggressive as we like to (be).”
Spikes starting pitcher Jorge Rodriguez went five innings, allowing two runs on five hits to take the loss.
Connecticut (10-9) took the lead in the first inning after Christin Stewart crushed a two-run home run to left-center field.
State College (9-10) cut into the deficit in the bottom of the second.
Grayson lined a double to left field for the team’s first hit and moved to third on a groundout by Leobaldo Pina. He scored on a groundout by Lankford to bring the Spikes within 2-1.
The State College defense saved a run in the fourth and faltered in the sixth.
With two outs and Tanner Donnels on first in the fourth, A.J. Simcox ripped a pitch into right-center field. Spikes center fielder Craig Aikin chased it down and hit second baseman Josh Swirchak, who bounced a perfectly-placed throw home to beat Donnels. State College catcher Jose Godoy made the tag to end the inning.
Two innings later, a defensive breakdown allowed a double and two runs to score.
State College reliever Jery Then retired the first two batters in the top of the sixth inning before giving up a four-pitch walk to Kade Scivicque. Donnels then sent a ground ball down the third base line for a double.
Connecticut’s Corey Baptist followed with a fly ball to deep right field. Spikes right fielder Thomas Spitz tracked it well off the bat and was in position to make the play, but the ball went off his glove for a double. Both runs scored to push the Tigers ahead 4-1, an insurmountable lead on a night that saw the Spikes finish with two hits.
“It was a well-hit ball,” Rodriguez said of the double. “It’s got to be caught, and I thought that was the game right there.”
Rodriguez said Orlando Olivera will be in the lineup Friday. Oliver was called up to replace Harrison Bader on the roster. Bader hit .379 with two home runs in seven games with State College before being promoted to Single-A Peoria on Tuesday.
Olivera hit .318 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 10 games with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.
“We’re not going to have the power we had before so we have to manufacture,” Rodriguez said. “I hope Olivera — he hit two home runs in 10 games down there — can bring a little bit more offense.”
The Spikes and Tigers finish their series at 7:05 p.m. Friday. Dailyn Martinez (2-1, 3.31 ERA) will be on the mound for State College, while Matt Hall (0-0, 2.57) will start for Connecticut.