WILLIAMSPORT — State College’s Andrew Sohn didn’t hesitate when he took off.
He saw the breaking ball roll away from Williamsport catcher Deivi Grullon and knew he could take third base with one out. Sohn slid in safely and scored on Danny Diekroeger’s sacrifice fly to center field on the next pitch.
The run pushed State College’s lead to three in the top of the seventh and proved to be the difference as the Spikes held on for a 3-2 win over the Crosscutters at Bowman Field on Thursday night.
“I saw a curveball, saw a slider, bounce out of his glove, got away a little bit, saw it and read it right off his glove,” Sohn said. “And I took a base and thankfully I was safe. That would have been bad if I was out, but I scored on the next at bat on a sac fly.”
Sohn finished 2-for-3 with a double and scored two runs in the win. Fernando Baez allowed just two hits in four scoreless innings in his first start for the Spikes. Trey Nielsen pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief to earn the win, and Kyle Grana protected State College’s lead in the final 2 1/3 innings for the save.
A night after the Spikes used four relievers in a 12-inning loss to Jamestown, Spikes manager Oliver Marmol was pleased with the combined pitching effort.
“That’s kind of what we were hoping to be able to get seven out of those first two guys,” Marmol said. “And then throw Grana in there, which is huge because we used a lot of our ’pen yesterday.”
Marmol said Baez will be in the State College rotation moving forward after he came out of the bullpen in his first four appearances. Baez also struck out four and walked one.
The Spikes gave Baez a lead in the top of the first.
After two weak groundouts, Adam Ehrlich sent a line drive into the left field corner for a double. And Alex De Leon stayed hot, drilling the first pitch right over Crosscutters second baseman Derek Campbell’s head and into the right-center gap for a double, pushing the Spikes ahead 1-0.
“He’s playing every day now,” Marmol said. “He’s feeling more comfortable. He’s playing with a little bit more confidence and you can tell. The kid’s squaring the ball up. Today he missed a couple just under, but got that big RBI for us.”
Sohn provided a spark in the fifth with a leadoff double.
He ripped a ball down the third base line and raced around to second before advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Robelys Reyes. He then scored on an error by Williamsport shortstop Emmanuel Marrero.
State College went to the sixth leading 2-0.
“I was just trying to hit the ball hard, hit liners, get in a groove really,” Sohn said. “Just try to get a fastball up, drive it and a couple at bats, that’s what I did.”
Sohn helped State College tack on another run in the seventh.
He sent a single into left field with one out. Reyes followed with a single to right field, bringing Diekroeger to the plate.
Williamsport starter David Whitehead, who allowed three runs in seven innings, threw a breaking ball that got away from Grullon. And Sohn was aggressive, making something happen on the basepaths to give State College insurance for the final three innings.
“He’s had limited time on the field, and every time I put him out there, he seems to do the job,” Marmol said. “He’s just one of those guys that just grinds it out, took advantage of that baserunning play there and another run on the board with a sac fly to center. It definitely helped us out.”
Nielsen ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh, allowing one run before being replaced by Grana with the bases loaded and one out.
An error on a ground ball to Diekroeger at third cut State College’s lead to 3-2, but Grana recovered to get Williamsport’s Rhys Hoskins to flyout to shallow left field, taken by Sohn, to preserve the lead.
Grana finished it with a scoreless eighth and ninth to seal the win.
“At this level, three runs isn’t a whole lot,” Marmol said. “A lot of things can happen. A lot of errors, hit by pitch, balls, all kinds of stuff. You never really feel too comfortable, but these guys did a nice job.”
Notes: State College hosts Williamsport at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Cody Schumacher (0-0, 3.00 ERA) will be on the mound for State College, while Feliberto Sanchez (0-2, 11.37) will start for the Crosscutters.