State College snapped its five-game losing streak Wednesday with an 8-2 victory over the Lowell Spinners in front of 3,525 on Bellefonte Community Night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Bruce Caldwell went 4-for-5 for the Spikes with an RBI and a run scored. Jimmy Bosco and Carson Kelly each went 2-for-4 for State College, which scored more than six runs for the first time in five games. Carlos Asuaje went 3-for-5 for Lowell with a solo home run to the top of the extended bleachers in right field.
Manager Oliver Marmol said he noticed his team was fatigued during the six-game road trip that yielded five losses and a rainout.
“It’s good to be back home,” Marmol said. “It was a tough road trip. At some point in the season those things are going to happen. It just tests the mental toughness of the club, but it’s just nice to get home and get a win.”
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Former Bellefonte native and major league pitcher Eric Milton threw out the ceremonial first pitch and was honored with a bobblehead doll in his likeness. Philipsburg native Matt Adams will also have a bobblehead night July 31 when the Spikes face the Tri-City ValleyCats at 7:05 p.m.
Nick Petree (1-1) got the win after five innings, one run, five strikeouts and three walks. Jimmy Reed, who was coached by Milton at the University of Maryland, picked up his second save after four innings, four hits and six strikeouts.
Mario Alcantara (2-2) took the loss after giving up six hits, four runs (two earned), two walks and two wild pitches in three and two-thirds innings.
State College (15-13) finished with 14 hits, but the Spinners (16-12) were certainly generous guests, committing a fielding error, three passed balls and four wild pitches.
Caldwell, a 15th-round pick in 2012, was involved in a sequence that encapsulated the evening.
With lefty Dylan Chavez on the mound, Caldwell singled through second to lead the fifth inning with the Spikes already ahead 4-1. Then with Ronald Castillo at the plate, a wild pitch moved Caldwell to second and a passed ball sent him to third. Then Castillo watched as another wild offering scored Caldwell from third and made it 5-1 Spikes.
“That’s a big key for us,” Caldwell said. “Whenever (the other team) makes mistakes we try to pounce on them as hard as we can.”
The Spikes went 7-for-17 with runners in scoring position. The Spinners went 1-for-10.
That was more than enough for Petree, who aggressively attacked the strike zone and threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of the first 14 batters he faced. His big mistake was a hanging breaking pitch that Asuaje hammered to right.
The 6-foot-1 right-hander did get into trouble late however, loading the bases with one out in the fifth. But Marmol let the ninth-round pick in 2013 work his way out.
“That’s a situation where you want to kind of see what the kid has,” Marmol said. “We had a little bit of a cushion … so it was a good test to see what he could do.”
Petree used a nice change-up to setup a strikeout and then got a pop fly to end the Spinners’ threat.
With the victory, State College moves into a second place tie with Williamsport (15-13) in the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney division behind the Jamestown Jammers (17-12). The Crosscutters (15-13) lost to Hudson Valley 7-3 Wednesday at Bowman Field.
The Spikes and Spinners meet again Thursday with right-hander Andrew Pierce (0-1) starting for State College and lefty Corey Littrell (0-0) going for Lowell.