UNIVERSITY PARK - A pie in the face was well worth it for David Rubenstein and the State College Spikes.
The Spikes' right fielder was rewarded with a good-natured shaving cream pie in the face courtesy of his teammates postgame after his triple off the center field wall began a three-run sixth inning that led the Spikes to a 5-3 win over the Jamestown Jammers Friday on Mifflin/Juniata Counties night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
"Compared to last year, it's like night and day," Rubenstein said. "We've got a unique chemistry in the clubhouse. Everyone gets along. We all pick each other up. It's just a great thing going right now."
Sentinel photo by CHRISTOPHER?SHANNON
State College first baseman Justin Byler applies a late tag to Jamestown’s Seguovah Stonecipher on a pickoff attempt at first base during the Spikes game against the Jammers on Friday.
Rubenstein led the Spikes' offensive attack going 2 for 4 with an RBI single in the first inning in addition to his sixth-inning triple that just missed leaving the yard to rudely greet Jammers pitcher Joe O'Gara who had entered in relief of starter Curtis Petersen.
"I thought I got enough of it off the bat," Rubenstein said. "But that's what we needed. We needed a base runner in that situation to answer them after they put up a three-spot."
Pat Irvine singled up the middle one batter later to plate Rubenstein to tie the game at 3. Then Justin Byler bounced a double off the wall in left field to put runners at second and third with none out. O'Gara struck out Edward Garcia before a quirky play led to State College getting the lead for good.
Craig Parry bounced one toward first base that was misplayed by Ricky Orton. Both Irvine and Byler scored to make it 5-3 Spikes on a ball that never left the infield.
"We've been getting into a rut with getting a lead early and trying to sit on it," Spikes manager Gary Robinson said. "It almost happened again tonight. We got two (runs). Our approaches stayed good. Our approaches stayed clean. We made smart contacts that were at people and I'm sitting there thinking 'Gee are we going to have to do this again'? But our group, I think gets a little better with a sense of urgency."
State College used a first-inning two-out rally to get on the board first. Evan Chambers drew a walk and then Aaron Baker blooped a single into shallow right field to set up runners at first and second. Then Rubenstein singled back through the middle to plate Chambers. Baker came home on a wild pitch to make it 2-0 in support of Spikes starter Phillip Irwin, who went four innings allowing just two hits.
His replacement didn't fare so well early on. Jason Erickson had a tough beginning to his outing when two straight singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning for 18-year-old Jose Torres. Torres dropped one just fair down the right field line for a two-run double to tie the game at 2. A groundout by Erik Kanaby eventually plated Torres to make it 3-2 Jammers.
"He was just up in the zone," Robinson said. "His stuff was better tonight. He's got incredible guts. He never gives up. He's not afraid to pitch inside and he made pitches when he had to."
Erickson settled down however to pitch three scoreless frames after that to pick up the win. Marc Baca allowed just one hit in the ninth to pick up his third save of the year in as many chances.
State College (12-10) will host Jamestown in the middle game of a three-game series at 7:05 p.m. tonight when lefty Nelson Perrera (1-2) takes the hill for the Spikes.
Notes: In celebration of Mifflin/Juniata Counties night, both the Lewistown and Indian Valley cheerleading squads performed during the pregame festivities. ... The Spikes will look to win its fifth series out of the last six tonight. ... The Spikes are now 7-6 at home for the season.