State College Spikes

State College Spikes: Williamsport Crosscutters finish off sweep of Spikes

Williamsport’s Grenny Cumana safely steals second as State College’s Cole Lankford jumps to make the catch during the Spikes’ 8-1 loss as the Crosscutters finished off a sweep of State College on Sunday.
Williamsport’s Grenny Cumana safely steals second as State College’s Cole Lankford jumps to make the catch during the Spikes’ 8-1 loss as the Crosscutters finished off a sweep of State College on Sunday. CDT photo

Seven pitches into the game, State College Spikes pitching coach Darwin Marrero made his first of three mound visits to talk to starting pitcher Dailyn Martinez.

Martinez saw his first pitch chopped to second base for an infield single and his second pitch lined softly into left field. Then the right-hander watched his seventh pitch drilled into the left-center gap for a two-run double, bringing Marrero to the mound for an early visit.

The Spikes pitching coach returned to the mound in the top of the third, after Martinez allowed a double, a two-run home run, a single and surpassed the 40-pitch mark. Marrero made the walk to the mound in the fourth, with reliever Nick Frey warming in the bullpen after Martinez surrendered the ninth hit to the Crosscutters, a two-run single that scored their sixth and seventh runs on his 68th pitch of the night.

Three pitches later, State College manager Johnny Rodriguez took the ball from Martinez, ending his first outing of the season after 3 1/3 innings. Martinez gave up seven runs (six earned) on nine hits to take the loss in the Spikes’ 8-1 setback to Williamsport on Sunday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

“He didn’t have what I call ‘damage control,’” Rodriguez said.

The Crosscutters finished with 16 hits Sunday en route to completing their three-game sweep of the season-opening series.

Williamsport starting pitcher Jose Taveras threw five shutout innings, striking out five and walking one to earn the win. Brendon Hayden went 4 for 5 with a home run to lead the Crosscutters offensively.

Williamsport got to Martinez immediately.

Crosscutters center fielder Zach Coppola attacked the first pitch and beat a jump throw by State College second baseman Cole Lankford for an infield single. Venn Biter followed with a single into left field.

Martinez then fell behind 3-0 to Williamsport’s Jose Pujols, who went 6 for 8 with two doubles and a triple in the first two games of the series. Pujols had the green light, but couldn’t connect. He drilled the next pitch into the left-center gap for a double, scoring Coppola and Biter to give the Crosscutters a 2-0 lead.

Seven pitches into the game, Martinez was rattled.

“It didn’t affect the team,” Rodriguez said. “Our team was ready. Even after that, we were ready. It affected him and I can tell that. That’s why I kept sending Marrero out to just settle him down.”

By the time Marrero made his second visit in the third inning, the Crosscutters led 4-0. After getting a flyout to start the inning, the right-hander allowed another double to Pujols and a two-run home run to right field by Hayden.

Wilson Garcia followed with a line-drive single up the middle, and Martinez started Jan Hernandez’s at bat with a ball before Marrero came to the mound.

The pitching coach’s final trip to see Martinez came after Biter’s two-run single in the fourth pushed Williamsport ahead 7-0. One batter earlier, Martinez made an errant throw on a pickoff attempt that allowed the Crosscutters’ fifth run to score.

Martinez was coming off winning the Appalachian League championship-clinching game last season and a successful extended spring training.

But he was flustered Sunday and finished his day after getting Pujols to fly out to right field for the first out of the fourth inning.

“He was just leaving some balls over the middle of the plate,” Spikes catcher Jesse Jenner said. “And like they have been the last two days, they’re a really good hitting team and he got hit around a little bit.”

Jenner made his professional debut after being drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Cardinals earlier this month. The University of San Diego product finished 2 for 4 and recorded a hit in his first at bat.

He lined an 0-2 breaking ball into left field for a single in the third inning.

“I was just trying to be short to it, just trying to be balanced,” Jenner said. “It just felt great getting that first knock out of the way and a lot of pressure off my shoulders.”

The Spikes scored their lone run on an RBI double by Leobaldo Pina in the sixth inning.

Rodriguez said he told his players not to panic after the loss to Williamsport on Saturday. And he won’t let them panic after getting swept to start the season.

“Things don’t always work out the way you want them,” Rodriguez said. “But I really like my team.”

Notes: State College hosts a three-game series against Auburn, starting at 7:05 p.m. Monday. Juan Perez is set to start for the Spikes, while Auburn’s starter has yet to be determined. … Rodriguez said Harrison Bader will join State College this week after a physical. Bader was the Cardinals’ third-round pick in the 2015 draft and finished his college career at Florida. The Gators were eliminated from the College World Series on Saturday night, falling 5-4 to Virginia. ... Thomas Spitz went 2 for 4 and scored a run for the Spikes on Sunday.

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