From staff reports
BATAVIA, N.Y. - Matt Skirving delivered the eighth grand slam in State College Spikes history, and third for any State College player this season, but the Spikes' late comeback bid fell just short in a 6-5 defeat at the hands of the Batavia Muckdogs on Tuesday night at Dwyer Stadium.
Skirving's slam off of Batavia (35-34) reliever Ricky Martinez brought State College (27-43) within a run in the eighth inning. The catcher joined seven other Spikes, including 2011 teammates Alex Dickerson and Dan Gamache, in the franchise's grand slam club.
State College had taken the first lead of the game in the third inning, when Kirk Singer brought in Junior Sosa with a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0, Spikes. However, in the bottom half of the frame, the Muckdogs plated four runs on five hits and an error, including back-to-back run-scoring hits by Vance Albitz and Garrett Wittels.
The inning represented the only rough patch for Spikes starter Ryan Hafner (2-6), who responded by retiring the last seven batter he faced, leaving after five innings with the score 4-1 in Batavia's favor.
In the seventh inning, the Muckdogs added two more runs when Romulo Ruiz and Danny Steinstra produced RBI singles off of Spikes reliever Cliff Archibald. However, Skirving's homer in the next inning started a comeback bid and forced Batavia to go back to its bullpen. Relievers Travis Miller and Daniel Miranda (13) were able to get the final five outs, though, to curtail the Spikes' chances at victory.
Chris Lashmet added a pair of doubles for the Spikes and scored a run, while Skirving ended the night with two hits and is now just one RBI behind Lashmet for the team lead among current Spikes.
Hafner went five innings for his fifth start of that length or more in his last six. The right-hander allowed the four third-inning runs on a total of seven hits one walk while striking out three. The Spikes collected a total of eight strikeouts as a team.
Hector Hernandez (3-2) came on in the second inning and earned the victory by allowing just one unearned run on four hits and two walks while striking out seven over six innings. Hernandez, normally a starter, was shifted to a relief role to allow Sam Gaviglio, the Cardinals' 2011 fifth-round pick, to make his pro debut. Gaviglio recorded a perfect first inning, including a strikeout, to start his pro career.
Albitz went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored, while David Medina also contributed a multi-hit game.
Wednesday, the Spikes and Muckdogs head to State College for a 7:05 p.m. matchup at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The game will continue a stretch of four straight meetings between the two teams in the regular season's final week. State College will have left-hander Mike Jefferson (2-3) on the mound, while Batavia is slated to send right-hander Jose Almarante (4-2) to the hill.