State College Spikes

Big inning propels Spikes past Doubledays

State College Spikes right fielder Ricardo Bautista and center fielder Mick Fennell congratulate second baseman Andy Young at home plate after hitting a home run in the bottom of the second inning in the game against the Auburn Doubledays at Medlar Field on Friday, July 22, 2016.
State College Spikes right fielder Ricardo Bautista and center fielder Mick Fennell congratulate second baseman Andy Young at home plate after hitting a home run in the bottom of the second inning in the game against the Auburn Doubledays at Medlar Field on Friday, July 22, 2016. nthomas@centredaily.com

Andy Young wrapped his bat around a fastball with an echoing crack, and watched it soar over the center field wall.

Not only did the homer also send Ricardo Bautista around the bags, it cushioned an already-healthy Spikes lead to 9-0 in just the second inning.

Oh, and it was Young’s first home run as a professional ballplayer.

“It felt good,” he said. “I was sprinting around those bases, there wasn’t a lot of time to think…It’s a special thing, to be sure.”

To sweeten the deal further, both of his parents and his two sisters were in town for the weekend to watch Young play.

Not bad for the Fargo, N.D., native, who just turned 22 in May. Young played for Indiana State University and was picked up in the 37th round by the St. Louis Cardinals.

“How in the world does that kid last to the 37th round?” asked Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez, shaking his head in disbelief. “He can throw, good size, pop…That’s not a 37th-rounder.”

The Spikes had the answer to Auburn pitcher A.J. Bogucki plastered all over their bats in Friday night’s 10-8 win (which also gave the team the series victory).

After giving up three runs in the first inning, Bogucki began the bottom of the second by hitting Matt Davis with a fastball, then walking Vince Jackson, then giving up a two-run single and an RBI single in turn, then allowing another run from a wild pitch-turned-throwing error.

Still, the Auburn bullpen was quiet — until Young belted one over center. Steven Fuentes came in for relief, but the damage was done.

Auburn connected easily and often on the Spikes relievers after righty Steven Farinaro left after 4 1/3 innings pitched. The Doubledays got one back in the fourth, two in the fifth, one in the seventh and one in the eighth — and knocked on the door with a three-run ninth — but the Spikes still squeaked out the victory.

“Our relievers just gotta be better,” said Rodriguez. “We got behind in the pitch count…We couldn’t finish the hitters.”

Movin’ on Up

Infielder Jose Martinez was promoted to the Cardinals’ Single-A affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs. Prior to his move, Martinez was batting .276 with nine RBIs.

Boink!

Bogucki hit a batter, and both Fuentes and closer Brayan Serrata plunked one apiece, bringing the total to six batters hit by pitches in the last two games against Auburn.

And speaking of “hits,” Auburn peppered out 20 throughout the course of the game, but also left 17 runners on base. The Spikes went hitless from the third inning to the eighth and finished with 11 hits and six left on base.

Family Matters

Ryan Ripken, son of famous baseball player Cal Ripken and nephew of Billy Ripken, plays for the Doubledays. He had previously slumped against the Spikes entering Friday’s game with an 0 for 10 record against State College, but was 3 for 4 in the loss.

On Deck

The Spikes (23-11) and Doubledays (15-19) finish the series on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Fans who arrive early can see a BMX demonstration as a part of the Team Ream and Coaches vs. Cancer charitable efforts at 5 p.m. in the Porter north lot.

Jourdan Rodrigue: 814-231-4629, @JourdanRodrigue

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