State College Spikes

State College Spikes split doubleheader with Connecticut Tigers

After the State College Spikes lost the first game of its makeshift doubleheader with the Connecticut Tigers 5-2, manager Oliver Marmol gathered his team to voice his displeasure.

“(I) pulled the guys (aside) in between games,” Marmol said, adding with a smile, “nothing that could be written (in) the paper.

“Yeah, I was disappointed,” he continued. “That’s a game that you have to win … and I don’t think they were ready to play.”

After a slow start in Game 2, the Spikes eventually rallied to a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning before rain swept in again and ended the scheduled seven-inning contest Monday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Inclement weather had already caused a suspension of Sunday’s game, which forced play to resume at noon in the fifth inning Monday. After a 35-minute delay in Game 2, the umpires finally signaled the game’s end, giving the Spikes two of three in the series.

David Washington, who hit a walk-off grand slam in the series opener, singled in the go-ahead run to score Cesar Valera, who doubled to start the fifth inning.

Carson Kelly went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs, making him 14-for-23 in his last six games.

Willy Paulino pitched all five innings and won Game 2 for State College (18-15). Julio Felix took the loss in relief for Connecticut (13-21).

After an emotional State College win on Saturday, the teams reversed season-long roles on Sunday and part of Monday before ultimately returning back to recent baselines.

The Tigers entered the series at the bottom of the New York-Penn League in batting average (.217) while the Spikes (.286) were the leader. However, for a few innings on Monday it was difficult to differentiate the two.

Paulino (2-1) had an enigmatic performance on the mound. He struck out six and gave up only two runs on six hits, but he also threw two wild pitches and struggled to throw strikes.

“He gets pretty excited about being on the mound,” Marmol said of Paulino. “He’s a hyper kid so once you slow him down and get him under control he usually does a good job.”

The Tigers jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first after back-to-back singles and two wild pitches by Paulino, the second of which scored Curt Powell from third.

Powell went 2-for-3 and was the only Tiger with multiple hits in Game 2.

Paulino found trouble again in the second after hitting Brett Harrison in the back after Kasey Coffman singled to start the inning. A Javier Azcona single later scored Coffman to make it 2-0.

“Guys came out and kept the momentum going from Game 1,” said Tigers manager Andrew Graham. “We jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but unfortunately the Spikes came back.”

Paulino nearly hit three more batters after breaking pitches got away and were caught behind the hitters.

Jonathon Crawford, the Detroit Tigers’ first-round pick in June, showed potential and youth. The 6-foot-1 right-hander reached 97 mph and commanded his off-speed pitches, but Graham said he wanted his youngster to be more aggressive in the strike zone.

Back-to-back walks in the second drawn by Alex De Leon and Dante Rosenberg led to back-to-back singles by Steven Ramos and Jimmy Bosco and put State College on the board 2-1.

Crawford went two innings and gave up one run on four hits.

In the third, Caldwell singled off Felix, then moved to second on a balk and took third on a wild pitch before scoring on a Kelly single to tie the game.

Four consecutive hits in the fifth eventually finished the Tigers. Valera started the rally with a double followed by a Mason Katz single, the Washington go-ahead hit and a final RBI single by Kelly.

Katz pinch-hit for Caldwell, who stepped to the plate in the inning but called timeout, chatted with Marmol and then left with trainer Dan Martin. He went 2-for-2 and is expected to be available Tuesday.

In Monday’s first game, Connecticut finished what it started Sunday, using the long ball to beat State College 5-2.

Brett Harrison’s solo home run off Jacob Booden in the seventh was the Tigers’ third in the game after Austin Schotts and Tyler Gibson homered off Arturo Reyes on Sunday.

Booden was aggressive early; working 0-2 counts on the first four batters he faced before falling behind Harrison.

Ben Verlander, the brother of Detroit’s Cy Young-winning pitcher, added insurance in the eighth with a double to the gap in left-center, which scored Powell, who singled, and Dominic Ficociello, who walked.

The Tigers looked poised for more, but a Duncan McAlpine line drive found its way into David Washington’s glove at first. The Spikes first baseman easily doubled up Verlander, who strayed off the bag.

The Spikes offense started quickly, equaling Saturday’s hit total with a pair of singles by Michael Schulze and Bruce Caldwell in the fifth.

However, they never capitalized and went just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Reyes (0-1) took the loss. Austin Pritcher (2-1) got the win.

Notes: State College heads to Niles, Ohio, to start a three-game series with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Cleveland Indians) Tuesday at Eastwood Field. Left-hander Jimmy Reed (1-1) and right-hander Nick Petree (1-1) will team up in a “piggyback” tandem against left-hander Kenny Mathews (0-1) in the 7:05 p.m. game. ... Leftfielder Ronald Castillo was placed on the 7-day disabled list after injuring his left shoulder diving to make a catch Sunday night. With Juan Bautista translating, Castillo said he heard a noise in his shoulder when he hit the ground and that it’s too painful to move. He missed 10 games earlier this season after injuring the same shoulder. Marmol said Castillo will be evaluated when the team returns to State College on Friday. ... The Tigers’ Patrick Leyland, the son of Detroit manager Jim Leyland and a product of Pittsburgh’s Bishop Canevin High School, was 3-for-10 with three runs and a home run in the series.