State College Spikes

State College Spikes beat Auburn for first win of season

Spikes Brian O'Keefe hits a home run. The State College Spikes played Auburn June 22, 2015 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Spikes Brian O'Keefe hits a home run. The State College Spikes played Auburn June 22, 2015 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. CDT Photo

In three years at Azusa Pacific University, Danny Martin recorded 138 hits in 395 at bats.

None were triples.

Martin tripled twice Monday night to help the State College Spikes beat the Auburn Doubledays 6-2 for their first win of the season at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Spikes jumped out to an early lead on Brian O’Keefe’s two-run home run and got five strong innings from starting pitcher Juan Perez en route to snapping their three-game losing streak.

Martin drove in State College’s final two runs on his first triple since high school.

“Since then all the triples turned into home runs because we had shorter fences in my college,” Martin said. “So having a longer fence here, keeping the home run in, getting the triples I guess.

“It feels good to finally get a triple and actually run the bases.”

Perez allowed one run on seven hits and had one strikeout in five innings to earn the win. Ronnierd Garcia also had two hits for the Spikes.

The Spikes (1-3) led 2-0 after O’Keefe lined a home run to left field in the second inning. They added two runs in the third on Casey Grayson’s one-run single and Garcia’s one-run double.

Martin then made it 5-0 with two outs in the fourth when he drove in Elier Rodriguez on his triple to right-center field — his first professional hit. Martin was selected in the 24th round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals and started this season 0 for 6 with five walks before the triple to the gap.

Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez moved Martin to the leadoff spot after he hit second in the lineup in his first two games.

“He’s going to stay in the leadoff spot because he works the count, puts the ball in play and he’s an energy guy,” Rodriguez said. “You got to have some energy guys on top.”

Martin feels comfortable at the top of the lineup.

“Leadoff’s my favorite position to hit out of,” Martin said. “You get a lot of first-pitch fastballs. They challenge you and I like being challenged to get on base and I can also show a little bit of power as a leadoff guy.”

Mike Pritchard, who batted leadoff the first three games, will hit second Tuesday, Rodriguez said. Pritchard wasn’t in the lineup Monday night.

Martin’s second triple came with two outs in the sixth inning. He drilled a 1-0 pitch into the right-center gap again to score Elier Rodriguez and make it 6-1. Martin is the sixth player in Spikes’ history to triple twice in one game.

The Spikes limited Auburn (3-1) to two runs despite allowing 13 hits.

The Doubledays had runners on first and third with one out in the first inning, but Perez got a double play to escape the jam. Auburn had runners on first and second with no outs in the second inning, but another double play killed any momentum.

Auburn’s Kelvin Gutierrez sent a ground ball to Garcia at third base, and Garcia stepped on third and fired to first to complete the double play. A groundout to second base ended the inning.

“That first double play was huge, the second double play even bigger,” Rodriguez said. “You saw it, he (Perez) just didn’t have his best stuff.”

But he allowed just one run on an RBI double by Bryan Mejia in the fifth inning.

The Spikes took a 6-2 lead into the ninth inning, and Rodriguez brought in reliever Kender Villegas to close it out.

Villegas allowed a grand slam to Williamsport on Saturday night, part of a six-run ninth inning in a 7-6 State College loss. And he ran into trouble again Monday after giving up a two-out single and a walk to load the bases.

Rodriguez sent pitching coach Darwin Marrero to the mound to tell Villegas that Auburn’s Diomedes Eusebio would be his last hitter.

Villegas got ahead 0-2 before Eusebio popped out to Grayson at first base to seal the win.

Said Rodriguez: “I liked the matchup and I believed in him.”

Notes: State College continues its series against Auburn at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. Right-hander Landon Beck will be on the mound for the Spikes, while Auburn’s starter has yet to be announced. … The Spikes received catcher Jose Godoy from Advanced-A Palm Beach on Monday.

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