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Scrappers thumped by State College, 8-1

NILES — With the season winding down and the playoff race heating up, the Scrappers bats remained cold, falling to State College 8-1.

“Early in the game they scored a few runs,” Scrappers manager Dennis Malave said. “We couldn’t execute a few pitches. They went ahead on the board, we gave them the lead and we couldn’t catch back up.”

The Spikes started strong, with shortstop Luis Flores hitting a three-run home run to center field in the top of the second inning to take the momentum. They didn’t let up.

Two innings later, Flores scored again as Donivan Williams hit a sacrifice fly for a 4-0 lead. In the fifth inning, College Station scored twice more with Matt Duce hitting a double to score Pedro Pages and Flores hitting a single to score Dariel Gomez.

Flores finished with four RBI.

It took until the bottom of the fifth for the Scrappers to get on the scoreboard. Third baseman Joab Gonzalez singled to plate Johnathan Rodriguez.

The game ended just as it began, with a Spikes home run. Gomez hit a two-run home run, also scoring left fielder Stanley Espinal to extend their lead to 8-1.

Despite the score, the Scrapper pitchers had success throwing strikes. Daniel Espino, Liam Jenkins and Jose Oca combined for 12 strikeouts. They also allowed a combined 14 hits and five walks.

“These guys are just like any other player here,” Malave said. “They’re learning how to execute pitches. They’re working on their mechanics. It’s all a part of the process.”

Offensively, the Scrappers couldn’t get anything going, totaling only four hits. Gonzalez had two hits, and Bryan Lavastida and Michael Cooper each had one.

The Scrappers (35-36) have five games remaining and need to win at least three to stay in the playoff hunt. With their backs against the wall, Malave has the same approach for his team going down the homestretch.

“We just need to keep playing good baseball,” he said. “Hopefully we win some games. We can’t control what other teams are going to be doing. We can only control when we play the game, how we come out and stay on the field during every pitch.”

Luckily for them, all five of their games are at home.

“It’s always good to play at home,” Malave said. “It’s good for the guys and it’s good for the city that we’re playing for.”

The Scrappers will finish the series against State College tonight at 7:05 as they hope to make one last postseason push.

“We have got to play every pitch,” Malave said. “Play every pitch and look for ways that at the end of the day we wind up on the winning side.”

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