UNIVERSITY PARK - Things had a different feel as the grounds crew lifted the cover off the infield Thursday.
The State College Spikes were looking to stop the bleeding after enduring a six-game skid that left them at 3-12 on the season. The Spikes were able to rebound, defeating Vermont Lake Monsters 9-6 in State College.
State College has had difficulty so far this season stringing the necessary runs together, scoring five runs ore more in only three games before Thursday. The Spikes were able to put their offensive woes behind them, if only for a night, scoring nine runs on 16 hits as they took the lead three separate times. The 16 hits were a home record for State College.
The 3,485 in attendance could sense it as early as the top of the first inning. State College designated hitter Cole White led off and hit a 2-2 pitch to deep left field that bounced off the top of the fence and gave State College the early 1-0 lead.
"I think that White's home run lifted our spirits," Spike manager Brad Fischer said. "We hadn't had a lead in so long, it was only a one-run lead but it definitely gave us a breath of fresh air."
During their struggles, the coaches have expressed that this team just needed to get a lead just to take the edge off a little.
"White's home run set the tone for the rest of the game," Spikes hitting Coach Sid Bream said. "Our guys just needed to relax and the early lead helped them do that."
State College was not able to relax for very long, as it watched the early lead vanish on a two-RBI single by Vermont's Jesus Valdez in the top of the third. After going 1-2-3 in the bottom of the third, the Spikes were in danger of looking like their old selves.
But in the bottom of the fourth inning, State College would respond. With the bases loaded and no outs the Spikes would take advantage. Ciro Rosero tied the game after being driven in by Silveo Pena on a fielder's choice. Pena then attempted to steal second base, and a bad throw from Vermont catcher Derek Norris allowed Andy Vasquez to cross the plate, giving State College a 3-2 lead.
"Vermont pushed us a little bit after we took the early lead but our guys responded," Bream said.
Still, the visiting Lake Monsters were not going to make it that easy for the Spikes to put the brakes on their six-game losing streak. Trailing 4-2 in the top of the sixth inning, Vermont tied the game with a triple by Valdez that was followed by a two-run blast by Michael Guerrero.
In the seventh, State College committed what appeared to be a crucial error as Vasquez threw a ball past first base on a routine grounder and Vermont's James Keithley gave his team a 5-4 lead.
But as it had been all night, the Spikes had an answer. They would retake the lead and seal their fourth victory in dramatic fashion.
State College's Butch Biela tied the game, leading off the bottom of the eighth with his first professional home run.
"It just felt great," Biela said. "They say that the first one is always the hardest to get, so I was happy to get it out of the way."
Rosero followed the home run with a single and the rest of the bats got hot as State College had their best inning of the season, plating five runs on six hits to seal up the victory.
"We have been working very hard," Bream said. "It was great to see Butchy's home run get things started in that inning. We just hope we can keep it going."
State College will face the Lake Monsters again at 1 p.m. today at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Spikes will be looking to claim their first series of the season.
"It was just a big relief to get this win tonight," Biela said. "It just feels good to see our hard work begin to pay off."