State College Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez ripped into his players’ offensive performance Sunday night.
Rodriguez called it the Spikes’ worst game at the plate this season. He said his group of professional hitters “looked like high school kids.” And he criticized specific at bats in a game he felt the Spikes should have won but never had a chance to win.
Rodriguez, who takes an even-keeled approach to managing and usually hides his disappointment after games, shook his head time and again in dismay as he talked about State College’s 5-2 loss to the Batavia Muckdogs at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
“That’s just a bad offensive approach, there’s no other words to say it,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t say bad words. That’s about as bad as I can say it. Bad offensive approach.
“It’s disgusting. Disgusting.”
Spikes starting pitcher Landon Beck allowed four runs on seven hits in four innings to take the loss. Beck walked three and recorded two strikeouts.
The right-hander gave up all four runs in the third inning, but Rodriguez brushed off the significance of the decisive inning.
“He kept us in the game,” Rodriguez said. “It could have been worse, we could have been down 8-0 to be honest with you.”
Batavia’s Giovanny Alfonzo and Alexander Fernandez started the four-run inning with back-to-back singles. Roy Morales came to the plate looking to put down a sacrifice bunt, but drew a walk to load the bases.
Brad Haynal followed with an RBI single to left field, and Korey Dunbar doubled to right field to drive in two runs and push the Muckdogs’ lead to 3-0. A sacrifice fly by Eric Fisher made it 4-0.
Rodriguez credited Batavia starting pitcher Cody Poteet, who allowed just one hit and struck out six in four scoreless innings.
But the Spikes manager wasn’t impressed by the Muckdogs bullpen or his team’s approach at the plate.
“We left two pitchers off the hook that I could hit them,” Rodriguez said. “I could hit them.”
Batavia left-hander Justin Langley started the fifth and allowed an RBI single to Craig Aikin for State College’s first run.
In the sixth, Orland Olivera worked a 3-2 count against Langley with one out and runners on first and second. Olivera went after a high breaking ball and popped it up to first base. Cole Lankford followed with an RBI single to pull the Spikes within 4-2.
Batavia replaced Langley with right-hander Jordan Hillyer.
Hillyer fell behind 3-1 before hitting Jose Godoy, loading the bases with two outs. R.J. Dennard faced a 3-1 count, pulled a pitch foul down the right field line and then flied out to center field.
Rodriguez said Dennard chased a pitch up and away.
“What does that tell you? They might not be ready for this level,” Rodriguez said. “They might not because you just cannot have that because if you’re rushing it now, what’s going to happen in Peoria? What’s going to happen in Palm Beach?”
Rodriguez said it also means his players aren’t aware of situations at the plate.
“When you have a chance to keep an inning going and you’re swinging at balls outside the zone when you’re watching and that guy’s all over the place,” Rodriguez said, “it shows me that they’re rushing the game so fast, they can’t see it.”
Rodriguez said he’ll address the team’s offensive performance in a meeting Monday.
In the eighth, Lankford had a chance to cut into the deficit with runners on first and third with one out. He was the first hitter to face reliever Steve Farnworth and grounded into a double play on a low pitch.
It was another failed at bat that Rodriguez singled out after the loss.
“It upsets me because we gave it to them,” Rodriguez said. “Yeah, we gave them four runs, so what? We could have scored nine.”
Notes: The Spikes received shortstop Champ Rowland from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Cardinals. Rowland, a College of Charleston product, signed with St. Louis on July 9 and played in three games for the GCL Cardinals. Spikes infielder Danny Martin is expected to be out for at least two weeks due to a groin injury. … The Spikes and Muckdogs finish their series at 7:05 p.m. Monday. Carson Cross (1-1, 3.38) will be on the mound for State College, while Justin Jacome (0-0, 3.72) will start for Batavia.