Powerful Spikes too much for Scrapppers

NILES – State College manager Oliver Marmol doesn’t have much to complain about when it comes to his lineup.

The Spikes came into Sunday’s matchup with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers leading the New York-Penn League in home runs with 36, and they boast the fourth-best team batting average in the league with a .259.

“I like our lineup. It’s a combination of speed and power,” Marmol said. “We’ve got some guys at the top of that lineup that can run a little bit. I believe we stole four, five bases tonight, and we’ve got some guys that can drive it out of the park. So, that combination leads to a pretty good club, and we’re excited about it.”

Both of those characteristics were on display in State College’s 8-5 win over the Scrappers at Eastwood Field on Sunday, as the Spikes stole five bases and parked three two-run home runs.

State College (30-13) roughed up the Mahoning Valley (18-25) bullpen, scoring all eight of its runs against relievers Dominic Demasi and Luis Gomez, who combined for 3 2/3 innings of work.

The main damage started in the sixth inning, when State College right fielder Nick Thompson launched a 3-1 pitch off Demasi over the left-field wall to give the Spikes a 3-1 lead. Teammate Collin Radack followed up the next inning with another two-run shot to almost the exact same spot off Gomez. Gomez’ struggles didn’t end there, as Chase Raffield drilled the scoreboard in right for the third two-run homer of the night that, along with a another run in the top of the eighth, gave the Spikes a seven-run lead.

“Demasi came in and he just didn’t have a lot of life to his fastball,” Mahoning Valley pitching coach Greg Hibbard said. “His breaking ball was a little loose, left some balls up in the zone that got hit pretty good. Same with Gomez. Gomez seems to get two strikes and then he kind of goes to his breaking ball. It kind of bit him a little bit on the left-hander (Raffield) – 0-2, he threw him a slider that hung up over the plate and he hit a homer.”

The bullpen couldn’t carry on the effort put on by starter Cameron Hill, who never let a batter reach past second base in four innings of work. The Spikes helped him out a three times by making baserunning errors on fly balls to the outfield, allowing themselves to be doubled up at first.

“I didn’t think he had great stuff, as far as attacking the hitters,” Hibbard said of Hill. “I mean, he did a good job using his change-up. His fastball command was probably average at best, but he stayed out of the middle of the plate and he was effective for four innings.”

Trailing 8-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Scrappers managed to add some consolation runs in the eighth and ninth innings, pulling to within 8-5 following a three-run double by Taylor Murphy in the ninth inning. The deficit proved to be too much, however.

“It was a good effort, but we got beat,” Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak said. “The bullpen didn’t do the job.”

Mahoning Valley and State College will play the second of their three-game set at Eastwood Field today at 7:05 p.m.