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Spikes one game away from title

By Kenny Varner

UNIVERSITY PARK – They’re back!!

They might also be better then ever as the State College Spikes take game 1.

After its second successful regular season run for the State College Spikes, the team battled its way back into the New York/ Penn Championship.

In its only possible appearance at Medlar field, the Spikes went to the mound with Trey Nielsen while Tri-City retaliated with hurler Brandon McNitt.

In a nail biter, the Spikes were able to keep the Valley Cats off the board, combining on a 2-hitter for the 2-0 victory.

State College opened up the score first, posting one run in the bottom of the second.

With one out, Jake Stone’s patience at the plate paid off, walking to first.

Luis Cruz blasted a shot into right centerfield that tipped off the glove of Tri-Valley’s Jason Martin. The ball scooted to the warning track and allowed Stone to score and Cruz to motor to third.

Tri-Valley threatened in the top of the third when Jason Martin and Alex Hernandez reached on consecutive walks with two outs.

After a trip to the mound by the Spikes pitching coach, Nielson recovered and forced Derek Fisher to pop out to right field, ending the threat.

Neilson had it rolling through the first five innings as he allowed one walk and was pitching a no-hitter.

Jason Martin ruined the no-no bid by Nielson as he singled into left field in the top of the sixth. After stealing second, the Valley Cats once again had a running threat on but a catch by Nick Thompson spoiled Tri-City’s chances.

McNitt was almost as successful on the mound, allowing only two hits and allowing just one Spike to score.

Picking up hits for the Spikes were Danny Diekroeger and Cruz.

He was replaced on the mound in the bottom of the sixth by Bryan Radziewski.

In the seventh, the Spikes added an insurance run.

Nick Thompson reached on a walk with two out.

Despite posting struggling a bit at the plate, Alex DeLeon plastered a Radziewski offering to the right field wall, scoring Thompson to up the Spikes lead to 2-0.

With the lead, Brandon Lee came in to relieve Nielsen in the seventh.

After a successful seventh, the Spikes made another pitching change in the eighth, giving the ball to Josh Lucas.

But the Valley Cats wouldn’t go out without a fight.

Opening the eighth inning, Alfredo Gonzalez laid down a picture perfect bunt that was thrown away by Cruz, allowing the runner to second.

Gonzalez moved over to third on a fielders’ choice by Jason Martin.

Lucas put out the fire as he struck out the next two batters to keep the Spikes lead to two runs.

For the ninth inning, State College went once more to the bullpen calling on Kyle Grana.


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