State College (25-21) entered the bottom of the eighth trailing, 2-1, after Aberdeen (18-28) second baseman Creede Simpson drew a bases-loaded walk from Josh Smith in the top half of the frame.
However, the Spikes played small ball to knot the game back up after Gaffney was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Walker Gourley's sacrifice bunt moved the runner up to second base, and after a flyout, Jacob Stallings's walk enabled Chris Diaz to come to the plate. Diaz came through with an RBI single to right field to score Gaffney and create a 2-2 tie.
In the ninth, the Spikes clinched victory with more small ball after Vasquez's leadoff single to left field. Jared Lakind laid down the sacrifice to move Vasquez to second base, and a groundout moved him to third base to set up the game-ending play.
The two teams were delayed by 39 minutes at the start due to the aftereffects of late afternoon showers in the State College area, but the IronBirds got to work early. Gregory Lorenzo, the first batter of the game, reached base on an error by Diaz and stole second base. After an error by Spikes starting pitcher Adrian Sampson got him to third, Lorenzo scored on a sacrifice fly by Lucas Herbst to give Aberdeen a 1-0 advantage.
Sampson did not make many errors, however, limiting the IronBirds to that one unearned run over five innings of work. The right-hander gave up a total of three hits and two walks while striking out five.
The Spikes took Sampson off the hook in the bottom of the fifth by tying the game at 1. Lakind singled with one out, reached second on a groundout, and proceeded to cross the plate on a Gaffney single to right field.
Kevin Kleis (1-0) picked up the relief win on the mound for State College, hurling a scoreless, one-hit ninth inning. Kleis was making his second appearance for the Spikes in 2012 after pitching in State College last season.
Aberdeen reliever Jason McCracken (0-1) took the loss, giving up the unearned, game-winning run on one hit in two-thirds of an inning.
Sunday, 17-year-old right-hander Luis Heredia (2-1) gets the ball for the Spikes as they meet the IronBirds for the second game of a three-game series at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. Heredia is in the top ten in the New York-Penn League with a 1.88 earned run average, and holds the second-best ERA in the Pirates organization. Aberdeen will go with right-hander Brady Wager (0-1) on the mound.
It's a Family Fireworks Funday at the ballpark, presented by First National Bank. Fans will enjoy a fabulous post-game FIREWORKS display presented by WJAC, with a Pre-Game Catch on the Field and Post-Game Kids Run the Bases, presented by Clinical Outcomes Group, Inc.
Plus, join the Spikes in saluting the men and women who have served and continue to serve in our nation's armed forces with the annual Military Appreciation Night. Fans with an active or retired military ID, or a spouse ID, can purchase $1 Bullpen Box tickets at the Medlar Field at Lubrano Park Box Office. In addition, the Spikes will present a variety of tributes to our servicemen and servicewomen, with military vehicles also presented on the ballpark concourse.
Tickets for Sunday's game, as well as every Spikes regular season home game in 2012, are currently on sale through the Spikes Box Office by calling (814) 272-1711 or by visiting in person. Fans can also buy and print single-game tickets by clicking here.
Catch all of the action on Sunday via the Spikes Radio Network, presented by Penn State Sports Medicine, at 5:35 p.m. with the Spikes GameDay Show live from Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Spikes' radio broadcast can also be heard worldwide through the "Listen Live" link on StateCollegeSpikes.com, provided by 95.3 FM 3WZ.