The boys of summer are back and that means the start of baseball, New York-Penn style.
Kicking off the 2016 season, State College made the short trip to Bowman Field for a season-opening battle with archrival Williamsport.
Taking advantage of some Spikes miscues plus showing a solid hitting attack, the Crosscutters won the season opener 4-1 before 3,693 fans.
“I like the way we competed,” said Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez. “We had one bad inning when our defense let us down on a bunt play and on a ground ball to second. If we make those two plays, it is a 1-1 game. He (shortstop Jose Martinez) forgot that there was only one out and he rolled the ball home when we could have had a double play. Those are the three key plays in that inning and it cost us three runs.”
Although both pitchers escaped unscathed from a few testy situations, Williamsport’s Adonis Medina and State College’s Dailyn Martinez matched each other pitch for pitch through 2 1/2 innings. However, all of that changed in the bottom of the third.
“We had a chance in the first inning,” said Rodriguez. “We just didn’t make the plays we had to. But again, we fought and battled and that was good to see.”
Breaking out the bats, the Cutters started the third inning with four straight base hits to plate the game’s first run.
Martinez could have possibly seen his way out of further trouble, but a costly throwing error and an RBI ground out allowed the Cutters to score two more runs as they staked themselves to a 3-0 lead after three innings.
“Other than his mental mistake, he (Martinez) kept the ball down and pitched pretty well,” said Rodriguez. “But again, if we make the plays, the score would have been 1-0 and the game would have changed.”
While Medina continued to cruise with the 3-0 lead, Martinez found more trouble in the sixth as the Cutters parlayed a double and two singles into a run to increase their lead to 4-0 after six innings.
Medina picked up the win, working six innings, allowing no runs on three hits, striking out one and walking a pair.
Although he pitched well and probably deserved a better fate, Martinez took the loss. The lanky righthander was charged with four runs on nine hits, walking none and striking out seven.
The Spikes avoided a shutout on back-to-back doubles from Ricardo Bautista and Bladimil Franco in the ninth to set the final at 4-1.
The same two teams will conclude the two-game series Saturday when Williamsport makes the trip to Happy Valley for the Spikes’ home opener. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m.
State College will send Carson Cross, a tall righthander, to the bump to face Williamsport’s Ranger Suarez. One year ago, Cross spent time with the Spikes, going 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA. He appeared in 10 games for State College, nine as a starter.