NORWICH, CT - The State College Spikes and Connecticut Tigers brought their three-game series to a swift conclusion on Friday night at Dodd Stadium, with a pair of first-inning runs proving the difference as the Tigers topped the Spikes, 2-1.
State College (14-14) and Connecticut (15-13) needed just one hour and 39 minutes to finish the game, setting a Spikes franchise record for a nine-inning game. However, it was the Tigers who struck first at the very start of the contest, with back-to-back singles by Alexander Nunez and Josh Ashenbrenner off of State College starter Quinton Miller (0-1). A throwing error by second baseman Andy Vasquez then plated one Connecticut run, with a sacrifice fly by Julio Rodriguez scoring the other.
The Spikes fought back in the third when Matt Curry drew a two-out walk, then stole second base. Gerlis Rodriguez, the only State College player with multiple hits in the game, then knocked him in with a double. In the ninth, Kelson Brown reached on a failed sacrifice bunt attempt, then went to second on a passed ball, but was stranded when Connecticut reliever Michael Torrealba (2) struck out Curry to end the game.
Miller was tagged with the loss in his third rehab start with the Spikes after allowing the two first-inning runs, both unearned, on a total of three hits. State College also turned three double plays behind Miller and relievers Mitch Fienemann and Justin Ennis, matching a season high.
Patrick Cooper (2-1) started for the Tigers and earned the victory, allowing the Spikes' lone run on two hits and three walks over six innings. Cooper also struck out seven. Torrealba picked up the save with three shutout innings to finish off the win, yielding two hits and striking out four to give Connecticut the series victory.
The Spikes' previous quickest nine-inning game in team history was on July 7, 2006, in a 4-3 loss at Jamestown that took just one hour and 55 minutes. Friday's game also nearly beat the overall record for fastest Spikes game, set when State College defeated Jamestown, 3-0, in a rain-shortened, six-inning affair that took one hour, 20 minutes on August 20, 2007 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Saturday, the Spikes begin the second half of their six-game road trip as they take on the Auburn Doubledays in a 7:05 p.m. matchup at Falcon Park. State College will send right-hander Kevin Decker (2-0), the current holder of New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week honors, to the mound. Decker brings a string of 13 1/3 scoreless innings into the game, a streak that stretches back to July 1st.
Auburn will respond with left-hander Sam Strickland (1-2), who looks to rebound after allowing seven runs in two innings and taking the loss against Aberdeen in his last start.
Fans can catch all of the action on the Spikes Radio Network and flagship station 95.3 FM 3WZ starting at 6:50 p.m. with the Spikes GameDay Show live from Falcon Park.