STATE COLLEGE, PA - Mason Katz delivered a two-run homer in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the New York-Penn League Championship Series to draw the State College Spikes within a run, but the Tri-City ValleyCats held on to take a 4-3 victory on Thursday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park to earn the NYPL championship.
The ValleyCats won the best-of-three series two games to one, with the road team scoring the victory in every game of the set.
Katz's blast to the Pepsi Picnic Pavilion, his second home run of the series, came with no outs in the ninth and gave the Spikes hope for a ninth walk-off win on the year. However, after Luis Perez singled and Jimmy Bosco bunted him to second, Tri-City closer Gonzalo Sanudo (4) struck out Steven Ramos and Cesar Valera to seal the championship win for the ValleyCats.
State College took the opening lead of the game in the fourth inning when Katz knocked in Carson Kelly with a single to left-center field. Katz, the Cardinals' fourth-round draft choice this year out of LSU, delivered a tremendous performance in the three-game series, hitting .417 (5-for-12) and bringing in a series-high five runs.
The Harahan, LA native went 10-for-23 at the plate in the postseason for a .435 average and his nine RBI in the playoffs were the most in the NYPL.
Tri-City scored all of its runs in the sixth inning, starting with Ronnie Mitchell's bunt single to start the frame. Mitchell would beat the throw to second on Chan Moon's subsequent bunt, and James Ramsay bunted the runners to second and third. Reliever Victor DeLeon then took over for Spikes starter Jimmy Reed (0-1) on the mound, and allowed a run-scoring infield single to Jack Mayfield to tie the game, 1-1.
DeLeon then uncorked a wild pitch to score Moon and give the ValleyCats the lead. After a walk to Tyler White, Jeff Rauh then came into the game and elicited a double-play ball. However, Valera's errant throw to first on the play allowed two more runs to score and make it a 4-1 contest.
David Washington produced three hits for the Spikes, capping off a postseason in which he hit .318 with a home run and five RBI.
Mayfield and Brett Booth each notched multiple hits for the ValleyCats.
Reed took the loss after being tagged with the first two Tri-City runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings. The Maryland product struck out four in the effort.
ValleyCats starter Kyle Westwood (2-0) earned the win after yielding one run on six hits and a walk over six innings. The run was the first Westwood had allowed in the playoffs, and the right-hander added four strikeouts. Sanudo earned his fourth save in as many postseason opportunities with two innings of work, giving up two runs on a total of four hits while striking out four.
Tri-City's NYPL title win was their first since 2010, when the ValleyCats defeated Brooklyn, two games to none, in the Championship Series.
The defeat marked the first time in 2013 that the Spikes lost back-to-back games at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. State College ended the season 33-10 in home games, including the postseason.
The Spikes also broke new ground on New York-Penn League leaderboards in the 2013 season. Steven Ramos clinched the Spikes' first ever batting title with a .341 average to best Aberdeen's Trey Mancini by 13 points, while David Washington copped the RBI crown with a club record 50 runs knocked in. Ramos also led the league with 86 hits on the year, while Washington's 40 walks (including eight intentional free passes) led the NYPL. In addition, pitcher Kevin Herget was one of five pitchers to earn seven wins on the season, the best total in the league.
To find out more about season tickets, mini-plans, flex books and a variety of different group packages and experiences for the 2013 season, call the Spikes at (814) 272-1711 or toll-free at (877) 99-SPIKES. Additional team and ticket information can also be viewed by visiting StateCollegeSpikes.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.