State College Spikes

Spikes build early lead to beat Crosscutters

Williamsport first baseman lines up to catch a throw from the pitcher as State College Spikes second baseman Danny Martin dives safely back to first base during the game at Medlar Field on Friday.
Williamsport first baseman lines up to catch a throw from the pitcher as State College Spikes second baseman Danny Martin dives safely back to first base during the game at Medlar Field on Friday.

Good pitching and three-run homers always work wonders in baseball.

Elier Rodriguez cracked that three-run shot, while Steven Farinaro pitched six solid innings for the win as the State College Spikes took care of the Williamsport Crosscutters 9-2 Friday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Rodriguez deposited a 94 mph fastball into the right-field bleachers for his second homer of the season, doubling the Spikes run total to 6-2 in the third inning.

Rodriguez singled, too, while Tommy Edman was 2 for 4 with a pair of runs scored.

State College (27-13) has taken the first two games of the three-game series against Williamsport (24-16), which is in second place, three games behind the Spikes, in the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division.

“It’s not just important to take the series,” Elier Rodriguez said. “Every day you’ve got to come out, think day by day, you’ve got to win today, win today, win today. Every day you want to win because you never know, end of the season some team might get hot you might lose some games.”

The Spikes couldn’t complain about their start, with Edman ripping a leadoff triple off the wall in right-center and scoring on a Mick Fennell groundout. Two more crossed in the second when Ricardo Bautista and Rodriguez singled, with the former crossing on a Yariel Gonzalez sacrifice fly and the latter coming home on an Edman single. Following Rodriguez’s homer in the third, Fennell walked and scored on Vince Jackson’s double in the fourth. In the sixth, an error produced one run and a Ryan McCarvel single plated another.

Johnny Rodriguez focused on putting contact hitters into the lineup to spark the offense.

“I put out there the energy guys,” the manager said. “… I just wanted ‘Bugs Bunnies.’ ”

The Cutters got their two runs in the third off an Arquimedes Gamboa sacrifice fly and Juan Luis racing home on a wild pitch.

Helping and hurting

Oops: The Spikes took advantage of the Crosscutters’ fielding issues, with four errors leading to five unearned runs. Adonis Medina pitched four innings and took the loss, giving up six hits and seven runs, but just three of them earned.

Quality work: Spikes starter Farinaro (5-0) gave up six hits, two runs, one earned, with three strikeouts and a walk over six innings.

“Farinaro, by the way, did not have his stuff early,” Johnny Rodriguez said. “It always happens that way. First two or three innings, he’s walking, then he gets his body flowing, everything starts working, his breaking ball, his secondary, his changeup — he’s better.”

Relievers Max Almonte and Jhonatan Escudero closed out the win, combining to allow just two baserunners over their final three frames.

On the move

Welcome back: Danny Martin played his first game since June 27, when he pulled a hamstring. He was batting .348 at the time, albeit just nine games into the season.

It was a long, tough wait for the Las Vegas native and 2015 24 th-round Cardinals draft pick out of Azusa Pacific.

“There’s been many times I’ve wanted to push it and come back,” Martin said. “I’m glad I waited the time I did because I’m feeling great now and being able to be back on the field and feel the adrenaline again, it’s fantastic.”

Martin was 0 for 2, walking twice and scoring a run Friday.

New Spike: Gonzalez was added to the roster earlier Friday, and started at third base. He finished 0 for 3 with the sacrifice fly.

Gonzalez was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an undrafted free agent last month out of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, where he was a first-team NAIA All-American. The switch-hitter had a .308 batting average at Johnson City with nine doubles, a homer and 11 RBIs over 19 games.

Heading out: Infielder Matt Davis was promoted to full-season Class A Peoria on Friday. Davis, a Cumberland Valley High School product, was hitting .211 with eight hits over nine games.

Catch a rising star: There is the possibility one of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top prospects will be on the field this weekend. Austin Meadows, who has been playing at Triple-A Indianapolis before suffering a hamstring injury, began a rehab assignment with the West Virginia Black Bears on Friday. The Black Bears begin a three-game series in State College on Sunday. The first-round draft pick in 2013 was with the Altoona Curve earlier this year.

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