UNIVERSITY PARK The Spikes' offense lacked the spark necessary to start a rally early in Thursday's game as State College managed to scrape together three runs on five hits during the first six innings of the game. To the surprise of most who have followed the Spikes this season, it was the bat of Walker Gourley that helped State College put together a four-run seventh inning rally and a 7-6 Spikes victory over Jamestown at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
After the Jammers had put together a two-run top of the seventh for what seemed like a comfortable 6-3 lead, the Spikes came right back with a string of hits to jump ahead 7-6.
Gift Ngoepe started the rally with an infield single up the middle, followed by Matt Skirving's second double in as many at-bats, sending Ngoepe home. Gourley kept the pattern intact with his second RBI double in as many at-bats, cutting the Jammers' lead to one.
After Jamestown pitcher Jeremy Heatley got the second out of the inning, back-to-back RBI singles by Mel Rojas Jr. and Adalberto Santos allowed State College to score the tying and go-ahead runs.
Gourley, who was hitting just .170 in 50 games this season for the Spikes, went 2-for-3 on the night with two RBIs and a run scored.
"It feels good to help the team," he said. "I've been working a lot lately just on my approach and today I felt like my approach was good. I've been trying to simplify things here the last few weeks and just see the ball the best I can and put a good swing on it."
Jamestown catcher Dallas Hord was ejected from the game by home plate umpire Ryan Bealo for arguing a controversial play at the plate on Rojas' RBI single to left. Gourley, who was on second at the time, was beaten by Jamestown left fielder Ryan Fisher's throw home by three steps, but was able to slide safely under Hord's tag.
Spikes reliever Brooks Pounders got himself into a jam after State College took the lead. Pounders loaded the bases with two outs on a single and two walks, but he was able to get Brent Keys to pop out in foul territory.
"I got myself in a tough situation there," Pounders said. "I just tried to slow the game down and throw the right pitches at the right time.
"The last out of the inning, I had a feeling the guy was going to be sitting on a fastball because I threw him a fastball the pitch before, so I threw him a changeup and got him out in front and popped it up to (Matt) Curry thankfully."
Spikes starter Zack Dodson didnt have his best stuff Thursday night. Dodson issued a one-out walk to the second batter of the ballgame, followed by a single of the bat of Dan Black, giving Jamestown runners on the corners.
Spike killer Marcell Ozuna stepped into the batter's box next and dropped a ball perfectly into no-man's land down the left field line for a two-run double. Ozuna's two RBIs gave him 18 on the year against the Spikes.
Dodson ran into some trouble again in the second inning after walking the first two Jammers on eight pitches. After a sacrifice bunt moved the two runners into scoring position, Jamestown designated hitter Harold Brantly Jr. hit a fly ball to center that was deep enough to scoring the tagging runner at third. Dodson was able to settle down for the rest of his outing, sitting down the final seven batters he faced.
"It was tough," Dodson said. "I definitely didn't find (my stuff) until after those two walks (in the second inning). I guess we were effectively wild tonight."
State College got a run back in the bottom half of the first on a sacrifice fly in foul territory. Drew Maggi legged out a double to lead off the inning, advanced to third on a ground out and scored following Santos' high fly ball near the Spikes' bullpen in right. Ozuna, who plays right field for Jamestown, threw a strike to the plate, but Maggi was able to slide safely around the tag.
The Jammers manufactured another run in the fifth inning. James Wooster, pinch hitting for Brantly, hit a one-out double and eventually moved up to third on a passed ball. Black stepped to the plate with two outs and hit a grounder in the hole between first and second. Spikes' second baseman Ngoepe dove and knocked the ball down, but was unable to get the final out, allowing Wooster to score.
The Spikes pulled together a run in both the fourth and fifth innings. Santos hit a double in the fourth inning, stole third and jogged home after the Jamestown catcher threw the ball into left field. In the fifth inning, it was a string of doubles by Skirving and Gourley that allowed the Spikes to cut the Jammers' lead to one, 4-3.
Errors cost the Spikes in the seventh, leading to a two-run inning for Jamestown. A throwing error by Maggi put the lead off runner safely at first base. Keys, the Jammers' nine-hole hitter, lined a ball into the right field corner to plate the visitor's fifth run of the night. Two batters latter, Hord lined a shot into right, giving the Jammers a 6-3 lead.
Notes: Jamestown reliever Heatley was issued the loss for Thursday's game after surrendering the four-run seventh inning to the Spikes. It was Heatley's third blown save in as many opportunities. ...Thursday's paid attendance was 3,448.