After Josh Swirchak led off the 11th inning with a single to right field, State College Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez met with Danny Hudzina along the third base line.
“I went up to Hudzina and I said, ‘Hey, you’re bunting until you get two strikes,’” Rodriguez said.
Hudzina got the bunt down.
Brooklyn pitcher Alejandro Castro tried to get the force out at second base, but his throw went high. A similar sequence played out the next at-bat, with Anthony Ray laying down a bunt and Castro going for the force out at third base.
But Swirchak beat the throw to load the bases with no outs.
After Brooklyn got a force out at home, State College’s Dylan Tice was hit by a pitch to bring in the game-winning run, lifting the Spikes to a 9-8 win over the Brooklyn Cyclones in 11 innings Wednesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Spikes reliever Bob Wheatley pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn the win. Wheatley was the sixth State College pitcher to make an appearance Wednesday night.
Castro allowed one hit and one run in 1/3 of an inning to take the loss.
The teams combined to use 13 pitchers in the game.
Rodriguez said the Spikes have just two relief pitchers — Eric Carter and Jordan DeLorenzo — available for Thursday night’s series finale against Brooklyn. Ronnie Williams (1-1, 3.75 ERA) is set to start on the mound for State College.
“We need a great outing from Ronnie,” Rodriguez said. “We’re out. We have nothing — nothing left.”
The Spikes bullpen failed to protect a five-run lead against the Cyclones on Wednesday night.
A bases-loaded situation in the seventh inning changed the game.
With one out in the inning, State College relief pitcher Greg Tomchick gave up a grand slam to Brandon Brosher, pushing the Cyclones ahead 8-7.
“The worst that could happen was a salami,” Rodriguez said, referring to the grand slam.
It was the first home run given up by a Spikes pitcher this season. It ended Tomchick’s outing after allowing four runs, three hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings.
Ryan McCarvel’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh tied the game at 8-8.
The Cyclones started to cut into a 7-2 deficit in the sixth.
State College’s Max Almonte allowed two runs and three walks before getting an out during his relief appearance in the inning.
Almonte gave up back-to-back walks to start the inning and set up Arnaldo Berrios’ two-run single up the middle to pull Brooklyn within 7-4.
After Almonte walked the next batter, Tomchick took over on the mound.
“Almonte just didn’t have it,” Rodriguez said.
With runners on first and second, Tomchick struck out Brooklyn’s Dale Burdick and got some help from his defense to end the inning.
When Gene Cone sent a blooper into shallow left field, shortstop Tommy Edman sprinted after it and made a diving catch for the second out. Spikes catcher Jeremy Martinez then gunned down Berrios’ steal attempt of third base.
But Tomchick, who was making an appearance for the second straight night, found trouble in the seventh.
The right-hander allowed back-to-back singles with one out before walking Blake Tiberi to load the bases for Brosher.
The Cyclones catcher’s grand slam gave his team an 8-7 lead. McCarvel’s RBI single tied it in the bottom of the seventh.
Left-hander Brady Bowen entered in relief, becoming the fifth Spikes pitcher of the night. Bowen pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, and Wheatley followed with two scoreless innings.
The Spikes had been in control for much of the game after scoring five runs in the first inning.
After Edman led off the bottom of the first with an infield single, Tice deposited a two-run home run into the right field bleachers to give the Spikes a 2-1 lead.
Vince Jackson followed with a double down the right field line and later scored on an RBI single by Ricardo Bautista. Hudzina’s RBI single to center field pushed the lead to 4-1, and Brooklyn first baseman Darryl Knight’s throwing error after fielding Ray’s infield single allowed the fifth run to score.
The Spikes sent 10 hitters to the plate and finished with six hits in the inning.
Jackson’s two-run double off the right-center field wall pushed State College’s lead to 7-2 in the bottom of the third.
Notes: The Spikes finish their series against Brooklyn at 7:05 p.m. Thursday. The Spikes then host Mahoning Valley for a three-game series, starting Friday. Spikes starting pitcher Steven Farinaro allowed two runs and six hits in four innings. Spencer Trayner pitched one scoreless inning of relief for State College. … Brooklyn finished with 14 hits, while State College had 13.