STATE COLLEGE, PA - The State College Spikes are off to the best start in franchise history thanks to Tuesday night's 12-5 win over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, and the Spikes can now boast both the best-hitting offense and best-performing pitching staff in the New York-Penn League this year.
Ronald Castillo, Luke Voit and David Washington all homered for State College (14-8) in a 17-hit outburst for the Spikes. State College trailed twice, but came back each time and poured it on with six runs in the seventh to notch their fourth straight win.
The Spikes, who have also won eight of their last ten, have pounded out 33 runs on 48 hits over the last four games. While the Spikes have never before made the NYPL playoffs, State College is currently enjoying a tie for the best record in the league.
Castillo, Washington, Jimmy Bosco and Bruce Caldwell all collected three hits for the Spikes, with Castillo falling just a double shy of the cycle.
NYPL Player of the Week Cesar Valera and Washington, the league's RBI leader with 22, lead an offense that is tops in the loop with a .290 average as a team. State College's powerful offense has also scored a NYPL best 130 runs, or nearly six runs per game.
Washington also carries a 10-game hit streak after a night in which he smashed his fourth homer in six games. The Spikes now have 12 homers as a team through 22 games after just 19 all last season.
Victor De Leon (1-1) picked up the win despite allowing three runs in his only inning of work. The Spikes reliever gave up two hits and two walks, but struck out two as well in getting the victory.
State College has now opposing bats at bay to the tune of a 2.48 earned run average, which is 22 points lower than second-place Brooklyn. Despite the loss of top starter Chris Perry to promotion, State College still has Kevin Herget, who is 3-0 to start his professional career, as well as Jimmy Reed (1-0), who has not yielded an earned run in his first nine innings as a pro, in the starting rotation.
The relief corps is also filled with live arms, including Mitch Harris, who is best among NYPL relievers in opponents batting average and fewest baserunners allowed per nine innings.
Mahoning Valley (7-16) starter Robert Whitenack (1-3) took the loss after yielding six runs, four of them earned, on nine hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings. Whitenack also struck out three. The right-hander was ejected from the game in the fifth inning after hitting Voit in the back with a pitch immediately after giving up a two-run, go-ahead triple to Castillo.
The Spikes take their show on the road for the next six nights, visiting the Aberdeen Ironbirds (Baltimore Orioles) for three games from Wednesday to Friday and taking on the Hudson Valley Renegades (Tampa Bay Rays) for three more from Saturday to Monday.
The Spikes will have Reed, a left-hander from Gaithersburg, MD, on the mound to start Wednesday night's 7:05 p.m. matchup, with righty Nick Petree (0-1) to follow. Petree has yielded only two runs in his first 12 professional innings for a 1.50 ERA. Aberdeen is slated to go with left-hander Mitch Horacek (0-1).
After an off day next Tuesday, fans will have their next chance to see the Spikes at home on Wednesday, July 17, as they take on the Lowell Spinners (Boston Red Sox) at 7:05 p.m. for Bellefonte Community Night, presented by Northwest Savings Bank and 95.3 FM 3WZ. The first 1,000 fans of all ages on the 17th will also receive a bobble head of one of Bellefonte's favorite sons, Eric Milton, to kick off the Local Legends Bobble Head Series. It will also be a Half-Price Wednesday, presented by BIG Froggy 101.
The game kicks off a six-game homestand that extends through Monday, July 22, with the Spinners and Connecticut Tigers (Detroit Tigers) each coming in for three games.
Tickets for each game from July 17-22, as well as every Spikes home game on the 2013 slate, 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 visiting StateCollegeSpikes.com.
Catch all of the action on Wednesday via the Spikes Radio Network, presented by Penn State Sports Medicine, at 6:50 p.m. with Spikes Live, presented by Mount Nittany Health, on the air from Ripken Stadium. The Spikes' radio broadcast can also be heard worldwide through the "Listen Live" link on StateCollegeSpikes.com, provided by 95.3 FM 3WZ.