The State College Spikes didn’t get off to the best of starts, and after their first batter of the game, there were very few highlights.
The Williamsport Crosscutters scored four runs in the top of the first inning and locked up a 5-1 win on a dreary Saturday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Tommy Edman homered to lead off the game for the Spikes (27-14), but the bats were otherwise quiet as the team saw a three-game win streak halted as it continued a five-game homestand.
“We had been swinging it pretty well,” Edman said. “Today was just one of those days where we squared up on a lot of balls, it seemed like, but just hit it right at guys.”
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Cole Irvin (2-1) was sharp on the mound for the win for the Crosscutters (25-16), and Mark Laird was 4 for 4. Bryan Dobzanski (3-4) took the loss.
Edman, the Spikes’ leadoff hitter, crushed the third pitch he saw into the right field bleachers for his fourth home run of the season.
Otherwise the team struggled, leaving eight runners on base and combining to go 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. The toughest was the eighth inning, with a one-out double for Andy Young and the bases loaded with two out but they were unable to cash in.
“We had more than plenty of chances,” manager Johnny Rodriguez said. “We had the bases loaded, 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, that’s what it’s at. When it’s going our way, the ball finds a hole, and (when) it doesn’t, you’ve got to accept it.”
The Crosscutters started strong, with three singles, including an RBI hit from David Martinelli, and a walk preceding a bases-clearing triple by Luke Maglich. Another run crossed in the third when Brett Barbier reached on one error and circled the rest of the way around on another.
“Did I have a feeling we could win this game, even down 4-0? Yes,” Rodriguez said. “All the way to the ninth inning.”
On the mound
Irvin deals: The Crosscutters’ starter struck out five over his five innings of work, allowing three hits, one walk and the only run on Edman’s homer. Of his 73 pitches, 52 were for strikes, and the Philadelphia Phillies’ fifth-round draft pick out of Oregon faced only three batters over the minimum.
Relievers Blake Quinn and Will Hibbs did the rest. The trio finished with seven strikeouts.
Rough start: Dobzanski lasted only 4 1/3 innings, striking out five but giving up seven hits, three walks and five runs, four earned. He also had a wild pitch and an error when he fielded a grounder and threw it past first base to allow Barbier to score all the way from first.
“He didn’t have his stuff,” Rodriguez said. “Actually his stuff was better than (his) last two outings, stuff-wise, the finish on the pitches, (but) location was off.”
Combined with relievers Spencer Trayner, Gerwuins Velazco and Eric Carter, Spikes pitchers struck out 13.
On the move: The Spikes will lose two starting pitchers Sunday. Starters Ronnie Williams (4-2, 2.72 ERA) and John Kilichowski (1-1, 0.92) will be promoted to Class A Peoria.
“Those are two, two, two huge losses,” Rodriguez said.
Around the stadium
Love the glove: There were a number of highlight-worthy defensive plays. Juan Luis hit a fly ball to shallow left that Spikes shortstop Young made a full-out dive to snare. Teammate Anthony Ray raced back to catch a deep fly by Luis Espirita before banging into the wall, and Cutters third baseman Luke Williams had a diving snag of his own on a Ray liner.
Soggy night: The game started on time despite damp conditions, but moderate rain began falling in the fifth and lasted a little more than an inning before a light mist bothered everyone the rest of the way.
“There were a couple pop-ups that were hard to track off the bat,” Edman said. “… It was kind of a weird game, but it was just something that you have to deal with.”
Flea-flickers: The game drew 2,535 fans despite the wet conditions, thanks to the Bark in the Park promotion, with 156 canines providing a different din to the stadium than typical game nights.
Spikes: The opening game of a three-game series with the West Virginia Black Bears starts at 6:05 p.m. at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Right-handed pitcher Dewin Perez (2-2, 2.81 ERA) will get the start on the mound. The game also will feature Paint the Park Pink Night, with pink cheetah-design jerseys worn by Spikes players auctioned off.
Black Bears: James Marvel (3-4, 4.23) will be on the hill for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ affiliate.