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Spikes fall to Black Bears

Courtesy of State College Spikes

GRANVILLE, WV – Brandon Benson smashed his third home run and drove in both State College Spikes runs, but a five-run first inning gave the West Virginia Black Bears an 8-2 victory on Thursday night at Monongalia County Ballpark.

Benson, the Cardinals’ 2017 20th-round draft choice, sent the first pitch he saw from Black Bears (18-12) starter Brandon Waddell in the third inning over the left-field wall. The Georgia College product then added to the damage with a two-out double off the left-field fence in the seventh.

Josh Lopez also recorded his fifth three-hit game of the year for the Spikes (17-13), which included a double.

State College starter Jonathon Mulford (1-3) overcame the Black Bears’ big first inning to record seven straight outs at one point, but took the loss. The righty yielded six runs, two of them earned, on nine hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings. Mulford also struck out four in the effort.

Bligh Madris had a big game for West Virginia, going 4-for-4 with two home runs. Madris delivered a solo shot to right to lead off the Black Bears third, then added another solo homer to right in the seventh. Jared Oliva also led the way for the Black Bears with a 3-for-5 night that included a triple, an RBI and two stolen bases.

Reliever Yoandy Fernandez (4-0) earned the win for West Virginia after allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out seven over four innings.

Scott Hurst was held hitless on the night for the Spikes, ending his hitting streak at 11 games.

The loss was only State College’s fourth in the last 20 games on artificial turf since 2015.

Friday, the Spikes and Black Bears tangle for the middle game of their three-game set. The 7:05 p.m. matchup at Monongalia County Ballpark will feature left-hander Andrew Summerville (1-0) for State College. Summerville earned his first pro win on Saturday with five shutout innings at Brooklyn. West Virginia will go with right-hander Gavin Wallace (0-2) on the hill.

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