State College entered Saturday with the lowest team ERA in the New York-Penn League, but Brooklyn starter John Gant stole the show Saturday night, keeping the Spikes hitless through five innings en route to a 2-1 Cyclones victory.
With Lowell losing 1-0 to Staten Island, State College (30-21) kept its 1 1/2 game lead in the wild-card race. Jamestown’s 3-1 triumph over Tri-City extended the Jammers’ lead in the Pinckney Division to two games.
Willy Paulino (2-2) started and took the loss. Gant (4-2) earned the win and Johnny Magliozzi got his fourth save.
The game was dominated on the mound as each staff stifled bats for most of the night. State College managed just two hits while Brooklyn (25-26) netted six but went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
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Carson Kelly and Cesar Valera managed the only Spikes’ hits. Patrick Biondi had the game’s only extra-base hit and the Cyclones’ Gavin Cecchini (2-for-4) was the only multi-hit player.
Gant, a 21st-round pick by the New York Mets in 2011, retired 10 consecutive batters from the second to the fifth inning.
The right-hander, who was selected to the NY-PL All-Star team, gave up just one run on two hits in six innings. He also struck out seven and walked three.
The Cyclones gave Gant immediate support after back-to-back hits started the first inning. Biondioff with a double to center and moved to third after Cecchini singled to left.
L.J. Mazzilli made it 1-0 with a sacrifice fly to Jimmy Bosco in center. The Brooklyn threat continued after a Bosco throwing error gave Cecchini second and a Paulino wild pitch sent him to third. After walking James Roche with two outs, Paulino induced a pop up by Tomas Nido to finally end the inning.
The State College staff did its job and kept the Cyclones close. Paulino gave up two runs on three hits and pitched around three walks and a wild pitch. He also struck out five.
Paulino left Nick Petree a mess in the fourth however, hitting Ismael Tijerina and walking Anthony Chavez with one out. Petree, who was scheduled to start Sunday, nearly escaped unscathed after fanning Biondi for the second out. But, Cecchini made the right-hander pay with a single to right that scored Tijerina to make it 2-0.
Petree stopped the bleeding there and settled nicely, retiring 10 straight from the fifth to the eighth. State College’s 2.44 ERA is still tops in the league.
Offensively, Valera finally got to Gant in the sixth with Valera’s infield single to third. After Davis Washingtonton drew a two-out walk, Kelly followed with an RBI single.
The Spikes would not get another base runner. The combination of All-Star John Mincone and Magliozzi pitched a perfect three innings of baseball.
Spikes’ manager Oliver Marmol shuffled the rotation because Petree pitched Saturday. Left-hander Jimmy Reed will get the start in Sunday’s 5 p.m. series finale and righty Kevin Herget, whose start on Friday was limited by rain, also will see action. Left-hander Carlos Valdez will start for Brooklyn.