Spikes surge late to top Scrappers, 10-3

Duce collects four hits, Pages reaches base five times to lead attack

Matt Duce delivered four hits as the Spikes burst out late for the win. (Steve Manuel)

By State College Spikes | August 30, 2019 11:51 PM

NILES, Ohio - Matt Duce collected four hits and Pedro Pages reached base five times to lead the State College Spikes' offense, and the Spikes scored eight unanswered runs over the seventh and eighth to erase a deficit and defeat the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, 10-3, on Friday night at Eastwood Field.

The Spikes' (38-35) victory enabled them to stay alive in the New York-Penn League playoff race, though barely. State College's elimination number in the Pinckney Division is down to one after Batavia defeated West Virginia, meaning the Spikes need to win their last three games along with three losses each for Batavia and West Virginia to slip into the postseason.

Trailing 3-2 after Johnathan Rodriguez launched a two-run homer to left for Mahoning Valley (35-37) in the sixth the Spikes responded in a huge way with five runs in the seventh.

Pages started the rally with a leadoff single, then scored the tying run on Duce's double. After Dariel Gomez was intentionally walked, Andrew Warner was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and new Spike Liam Sabino singled to left to bring in Duce with the go-ahead run.

Scrappers shortstop Brayan Rocchio then committed a fielding error that lead to Gomez and Warner crossing the plate, and one batter later, Luis Flores brought in Sabino with an RBI groundout to make it 7-3.

In the eighth, the Spikes kept up the pace as Pages doubled for third hit of the night and 17th two-base hit of the season, then scored on Duce's single, his fourth hit of the game. After Stanley Espinal reached on a Texas Leaguer to center, Warner doubled both runners in to complete the scoring.

State College had taken the opening lead of the game when Gomez singled in Pages in the first. Gomez, who hit three home runs and drove in six runs for the series, was intentionally walked twice with first base open during the game.

Mahoning Valley tied it in the first when Bryan Lavastida produced an RBI single, but the Spikes jumped back out in front in the third on Espinal's sacrifice fly to right field.

In addition to his three hits, Pages added a walk and was hit by a pitch in the game. Duce's four hits marked the fourth time this year a Spikes player collected four or more hits in a game, and the first since David Vinsky tied a franchise record with five hits against Staten Island on July 13. Pages also tied a Spikes record with four runs scored in the game.

Spikes starter Scott Politz (4-3) earned the win after producing his first quality start of the season on the road. Politz, who has yielded just four earned runs over his last 32 innings at home, carried a 12.21 road ERA into the game before a six-inning performance in which he yielded three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four batters.

Cameron Dulle retired all six batters he faced in relief, three via strikeout, before Eric Lex tossed a scoreless, one-hit ninth inning that included one strikeout to finish the game for State College.

Former Penn State pitcher Eric Mock (1-1) made his first appearance against the Spikes and took the loss. Mock, who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 25th round this year after pitching for the Nittany Lions, who share Medlar Field at Lubrano Park with the Spikes, gave up five runs, three of them earned, on three hits, two hit batsmen, and one walk while striking out three batters over three innings.

Rodriguez's homer in the sixth inning off Politz was his sixth of the season. Lavastida produced the only multi-hit game for the Scrappers.

The Spikes now head back to Central PA to start their final series of the 2019 regular season, a three-game set with the Williamsport Crosscutters (Philadelphia Phillies) that begins at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field on Saturday. State College will send NYPL All-Star right-hander Andre Pallante (1-0) to the mound for the 7:05 p.m. matchup, to be opposed by Williamsport right-hander Adam Leverett (1-2).

Following Saturday's game, the Spikes and Crosscutters will head to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for the regular season home finale on Sunday before going back to Williamsport for a 1:05 p.m. Labor Day matchup to close out the season on Monday.

The Spikes' 2019 regular season home schedule will go out with a bang on Sunday, as Lion Country Kia presents the chance for one "LuCKy" fan to drive home a winner with a lease on a new Kia as part of LuCKy's Kia Lease Giveaway II, and all fans will enjoy a fantastic FIREWORKS show after the game.

Plus, fans can bring their dogs to the ballpark as well for the fourth and final Bark in the Park Night of the year, presented by Metzger Animal HospitalNEWSRADIO 1390 WRSC and the Centre Daily Times. Complete Bark in the Park policies and procedures are available online at StateCollegeSpikes.com.

The Spikes will also wear their special Bark in the Park Jerseys for the last time, featuring a collage of dog photos submitted by fans earlier this year. The jerseys have been up for bids throughout the 2019 season via the Spikes' partnership with LiveSource, and fans can place their bids through the end of the sixth inning on Sunday via the LiveSource app, available on Google Play and the App Store. Proceeds from the Bark in the Park Jersey Auction will benefit local animal rescues thanks to the Spikes' partnership with Metzger Animal Hospital.

It's also THON Night on Sunday, as Four Diamonds families and THON members will celebrate the start of the drive towards THON 2020. Fans can use the promo code THON when purchasing their tickets to donate a portion of the price to THON.

In addition, college students across Central PA can enjoy even more value with the College Student 3-2-1 Special. The College Student 3-2-1 Special offers any college student presenting a valid student ID at ticket and concessions windows $3 off their seat in any ballpark section, excluding the Pepsi Picnic Pavilion, Geisinger Champions Club and Rail Kings, plus $2 regular sodas and $1 hot dogs all game long.

Tickets for Sunday's game are currently on sale through the Spikes Ticket Office. Tickets can be purchased by calling (814) 272-1711 or by visiting the Ticket Office in person from 9 a.m. to the end of the game on gamedays Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to the end of the game on gamedays Saturday and Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on non-gamedays Monday through Friday.

Fans can also buy and download single-game tickets by visiting StateCollegeSpikes.com.

Catch all of the action on Saturday via the Spikes Radio Network, presented by Penn State Sports Medicine, Official Healthcare Provider of Penn State Athletics, at 6:50 p.m. with Spikes Live, presented by Mount Nittany Health, on the air from BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. The Spikes' radio broadcast can also be heard worldwide through the "Listen Live" link on StateCollegeSpikes.com, provided by the club's flagship radio home, NEWSRADIO 1390 WRSC, as well as the TuneIn Radio app.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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