Auburn Doubledays hurler Carlos Acevedo plunked three Spikes batters in two innings in State College’s 7-4 win on Thursday night.
Sure, it got the Spikes runners on the bags.
The only problem, however, was that through almost four innings, those three hit-by-pitch runners and an Auburn throwing error were the only ways the Spikes got on base.
“I thought we might come out in a fog,” said head coach Johnny Rodriguez, commenting on his team’s recent long trip to Lowell.
But when the Spikes started connecting, they made their hits count.
State College’s first hit of the game was a two-out RBI double by right fielder Ricardo Bautista that plated Ryan McCarvel from second in the fourth. It was his 11th double of the season (moving him into fourth place in the New York-Penn League) and his 15th RBI.
Bautista also provided the go-ahead run in the seventh inning with an RBI single, after an RBI double by Elier Rodriguez sent in Vince Jackson and a wild pitch scored McCarvel from third. A sacrifice fly and RBI single added two more to the Spikes’ lead in the bottom of the eighth.
“It’s what I saw in these guys early in the year,” said Johnny Rodriguez. “They don’t get too high after a lot of wins, they don’t get too low after losses.”
Auburn had no problem peppering pitcher Carson Cross early. The right-hander gave up four runs on eight hits and walked two runners. Cross was pulled in the sixth, for Jordan DeLorenzo, who earned the win after throwing two scoreless frames.
The Doubledays plated their first run in the first inning after an illegal blocking call against catcher Jeremy Martinez — one that brought Johnny Rodriguez out of the dugout to have a chat with the umpire.
“He was saying that (Martinez) never gave him the lane,” said Rodriguez, shaking his head and explaining that his catcher moved out of the lane to catch the would-be tagout throw.
Martinez earned the run back in the sixth after a single put him on first and he rounded the rest off a double by Elier Rodriguez.
Auburn tacked another run on in the opening frame after Tres Barrera scored from second on a sacrifice fly to right. The team added two more in the top of the fifth on a Jack Sundberg RBI triple (his second of the year) and Daniel Johnson RBI single.
Making the grab
Bautista showed off his athleticism early on defense with a diving, sliding grab in the first inning that brought him into shallow right field.
Third baseman Danny Hudzina also got some dirt on his uniform with a diving stop on a hot grounder in the top of the fifth. Hudzina got the ball over to McCarvel in time to cut off Auburn’s two-run momentum in the inning.
With Auburn runners in the corners in the top of the seventh and two outs, second baseman Josh Swirchak retreated almost comically deep into shallow right field. His shift worked, as lefty Oliver Ortiz hit a bouncing grounder right to him and he was in the perfect position to field it and strand the runners.
News and Notes
Spikes, fans join fight against cancer
Friday’s Spikes game is Coaches vs. Cancer at Penn State Night, featuring a game-used hat auction. The special “State Puft” hats that the Spikes wore on July 15 have been signed by players and coaches, and will go up for bids in a silent auction throughout the game to benefit Coaches vs. Cancer at Penn State.
Fans will be able to meet and greet Matt Paxton from TV’s “Hoarders” on Friday night.
The first 1,000 fans will also receive a Road to the Show Poster, honoring those who have made it from the Spikes all the way to Major League Baseball.
Saturday’s game is Team Ream Day. Fans can help raise funds and awareness for the Team Ream Foundation and enjoy a pre-game BMX demonstration beginning at 5 p.m.
The Spikes (22-11) finish their three-game home series with the Doubledays with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch on both Friday and Saturday.