The State College Spikes had no answer for Tri-City ValleyCats ace Joe Musgrove in Game 2 of the New York-Penn League Championship series Monday night.
Behind Musgrove’s dominant effort, Tri-City forced a decisive Game 3 for the title with a 3-0 win over the Spikes at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium. Musgrove allowed two hits and struck out eight in seven innings.
“It was a tough game,” Spikes manager Oliver Marmol said. “Obviously you want to put some runs up on the board and compete a little better than we did today. Musgrove did a nice job for them on the bump, gave them a strong outing. The guys competed. We came up short.”
The teams will play Game 3 at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bruno Stadium.
State College starting pitcher Austin Gomber allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits in two innings to take the loss. Gomber walked two and struck out two.
The ValleyCats built a three-run lead in the bottom of the third.
Tri-City’s Alex Hernandez led off with a single to center field. Kristian Trompiz and Derek Fisher followed with back-to-back bunt singles to load the bases with no outs.
Gomber then walked Jamie Ritchie to push Tri-City’s first run across.
That was the end of Gomber’s night as Marmol called for reliever Joe Scanio with the bases still loaded.
A wild pitch by Scanio and a passed ball by catcher Brian O’Keefe led to two more runs in the inning to give the ValleyCats a 3-0 lead.
“Scanio did his job,” Marmol said. “We had a passed ball and a couple runs scored with that. He did his job, got a couple Ks and could have came out of the inning with just one run, but that's not what happened. Obviously a big inning like that with a crooked number hurts you.”
Scanio kept Tri-City off the board over the next three innings, but the Spikes couldn’t break through against Musgrove.
State College’s Darren Seferina singled to right field for the team’s second hit in the sixth inning.
Alex De Leon started the second inning with a double and advanced to third on a groundout. But Musgrove got Robelys Reyes to ground out and struck out O’Keefe to leave De Leon stranded.
After De Leon’s double, Musgrove retired seven straight until Nick Thompson reached on an error in the fourth. Musgrove then retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced.
“He's got a good fastball and mixed his pitches really well, just the combination of his splitter and his slider kept the guys off balance,” Marmol said. “(He) threw it in any count, behind in the count, just to basically keep everybody off balance the whole game.”
State College’s Nick Thompson singled to left field for the Spikes’ third and final hit in the ninth inning. Derick Velazquez pitched the ninth for his second save of the playoffs.
Tri-City right-hander Austin Chrismon (6-3, 3.69) will get the start Tuesday night. Chrismon went five innings and allowed one run on three hits in the ValleyCats’ 12-2 win over the Spikes on July 20.
The Spikes’ starting pitcher has yet to be determined.
“It's still in the air right now,” Marmol said.