STATE COLLEGE - Gift Ngoepe went 3-for-4 and finished just a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, while Mel Rojas Jr. contributed four hits to power the State College Spikes to an 8-4 win over the Auburn Doubledays at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Thursday night.
Ngoepe also knocked in a pair of runs with a ground-rule double in the first inning and a triple to right-center field in the sixth. The native South African also scored a run and stole a base in the game. Rojas, batting leadoff in front of Ngoepe, scored three times and knocked in a pair of runs to help the State College (17-17) offensive effort. Adalberto Santos provided an RBI triple in the third inning as well to give the Spikes their third victory in four games against the Doubledays (13-21) this season in front of 4,171 fans.
Matt Curry, the New York-Penn League Player of the Week for July 12-18, walked in the seventh inning to run his on-base streak to 19 games. The string encompasses Curry's entire Spike career to this point.
State College starter Colton Cain retired the first nine batters he faced in the game, but allowed two runs on three hits in the fourth inning before stranding a runner on third. Cain struck out four in the effort.
Reliever Kevin Decker (3-0) stayed undefeated in 2010, picking up the victory with two shutout innings, allowing three hits and hitting a batter. Decker battled back from being drilled by a comebacker off the bat of Jack Murphy on his very first pitch to earn the win. The College of Charleston alum went 8-0 for the Cougars this past spring. Ryan Beckman (1) picked up the save with three innings of two-run ball to finish off the game.
Auburn's Sam Strickland (1-3) started and took the loss, allowing four runs, two of them earned, on eight hits and a walk. Strickland also struck out two.
Friday, the Spikes take on the Doubledays in the second game of a three-game series at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. State College will send left-hander Zac Fuesser (0-0) to the mound for his third start of the season. Fuesser allowed two runs on four hits in a no-decision at Auburn on Sunday. The Doubledays will counter with right-hander Casey Lawrence (3-0), who currently leads the New York-Penn League in earned run average with a 1.05 mark.