The State College Spikes were patient as Lowell starting pitcher Javier Rodriguez struggled to find the plate in the first inning.
Rodriguez allowed a leadoff walk to Thomas Spitz, the first of four walks the left-hander would surrender in what became a short outing. His second walk loaded the bases with no outs before a groundout drove in the Spikes’ first run. His third walk reloaded the bases, setting the stage for a three-run double by Jhohan Acevedo.
His fourth and final walk became official after he had left the mound with two outs in the first inning. The Spikes had already scored four runs en route to a 6-3 victory over the Spinners on Sunday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
“We didn’t chase as much as we usually have,” Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez said. “And we’ve learned at least when we’re executing that when the guy doesn’t have it, don’t do him a favor. That’s very important.”
Lowell’s Javier Rodriguez took the loss and left the game after the trainer came to the mound with a 2-0 count against State College’s Champ Rowland. Rowland drew a walk, credited to Rodriguez, who allowed four runs, four walks and two hits in 2/3 of an inning. Rodriguez threw 21 balls in the 32-pitch outing.
State College starting pitcher Ian McKinney went five innings, allowing three runs and five hits to earn the win. McKinney struck out seven and walked three. Spikes relievers Luke Harrison and Pedro Echemendia combined to pitch four scoreless innings to seal the win.
The Spikes avoided a sweep for the second time during the six-game homestand.
“It was a good win,” Rodriguez said. “Now, hey, we have to continue to be consistent.”
State College (20-21) took control with the four-run first inning, highlighted by Acevedo’s three-run double down the left field line. In his last three games, Acevedo has at least one extra base hit to go with eight RBIs.
“He’s been clutch,” Rodriguez said. “Clutch. I knew he was going to come through.”
State College pushed its lead to 5-0 when Mike Pritchard scored from second on a groundout by Casey Grayson. Grayson pulled a ground ball off the glove of diving Lowell first baseman Josh Ockimey, giving Pritchard time to score as second baseman Hector Lorenzana fielded the deflection to get the out.
A pair of defensive mistakes helped Lowell get back in the game in the fourth.
Lowell’s Victor Acosta sent a fly ball down the left line that dropped between shortstop Leobaldo Pina and Pritchard for a double. Tate Matheny followed with a chopper to third that State College’s Cole Lankford waited back on, allowing him to reach on an infield single. A walk loaded the bases.
Kyri Washington cleared them with a double to left-center field to pull Lowell (22-20) within 5-3.
“McKinney, outside of that one inning, those two plays are made, he goes seven innings,” Rodriguez said.
Orlando Olivera’s RBI single in the seventh gave the Spikes a three-run lead.
And Echemendia escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the ninth to pick up the save. The right-hander got a double play and a flyout to close out the win.
“He made pitches when he had to,” Rodriguez said.
Notes: The Spikes start a three-game series on the road against Batavia on Monday. State College then travels to West Virginia to finish the six-game road trip. Jorge Rodriguez (2-2, 3.18 ERA) will be on the mound for State College on Monday, while Gabriel Castellanos (1-3, 5.25) is set to start for Batavia.