STATE COLLEGE - Unlike Monday night at Bowman Field, there was reason to fear the deer Tuesday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Scoring first and last, the State College Spikes upended the Williamsport Crosscutters by the final of 5-2 to even the season-opening four-game series at one apiece in the Spikes' home opener.
"After last night's loss, I just told these guys tomorrow night is another game, new season and tomorrow is another new season," Spikes manager Dave Turgeon said. "I want them to enjoy the game tonight for a few minutes and then back to work tomorrow. I want them to try and get that grinder mentality down because it is not such a roller coaster like it was in college at times. Obviously this is a marathon and not a sprint. I am more concerned with these guys having a quality day of work than any of the results we are talking about."
The Spikes broke on top 1-0 before the first out was recorded in the first inning.
Jodanelli Carvajal singled to center, went to third on a single to center by Raul Fortunato and scored when Cutters' second baseman Tyler Greene couldn't handle the throw from Logan Moore on a steal attempt by Fortunato.
The Cutters took their only lead of the game with a pair of runs in the third inning, scoring their first run in the same fashion as they did twenty-four hours earlier.
Roman Quinn reached on a line single to left, stole second, went to third on a groundout and scored on a throwing error by Spikes first baseman Jared Lakind.
"When he (Quinn) gets on, you can just the infielders chatting with each other," Cutters manager Andy Tracy said. "He can make a lot of things happen with his speed."
With two outs, Chris Serritella walked and scored when Larry Greene ripped a RBI double off the centerfield fence.
After surrendering a run on three hits in the first two innings, Cutter starter Ulises Joaquin retired eleven in a row to complete his five innings of work.
"I thought Joaquin threw awesome for us," Tracy said. "His ball had lots of life and he had a good slider. He competed all night and if he can give us an outing like that every time he goes out there, that would be pretty good."
Held scoreless since the first inning, the Spikes took advantage of Cutter relief pitcher Jim Birmingham's inability to find the plate in the sixth inning to regain the lead with two runs - and it could have been a lot worse.
Birmingham faced six batters, only retiring one - of his 27 pitches, only 11 found the strike zone. He was touched up for a pair of hits, surrendered two walks and hit one batter. Steven Inch came on in relief to provide damage control for the Cutters as he retired Yhonathan Barrios on a foul pop to the catcher before getting Francisco Aponte on a fly ball to centerfield.
"The middle part of the game got us a little bit," Tracy said. "We tried to stay in it and we managed to get the tying run to the plate in the ninth and that is all we can ask to have happen."
Adding on can be a big plus for a team, especially in a close game, and the Spikes were able to do that with two runs in the seventh. Big blows in the frame were an RBI triple by Carvajal and a high bouncing RBI single up the middle by Fortunato.
Carvajal was inserted in the leadoff spot and he responded by coming through with a single and triple while scoring three of the Spikes five runs.
"Carvy has been there before," Turgeon said. "He is kind of a top of the order, bottom of the order guy and regardless of which position he is in, I like the speed and energy he brings into the lineup. He did a good job and I think he is comfortable in either one of those spots."
For their first two outings, the Spikes pitching has been the best part of their game. Jason Creasy was good in the loss in the season opener and in this game, starter Joely Rodriguez was solid, allowing just two runs on only three hits. If there was a negative in Rodriguez's performance it was that he issued five walks against three strikeouts.
On Rodriguez's heels, the foursome of Logan Pevny, Tom Harlan, Jordan Cooper and Kyle Haynes combined to keep the Cutters off the scoreboard, combining to allow just four hits and no walks while striking out a half dozen over the final five innings.
"I have seen Joely more aggressive, but he made bit pitches when he needed them," Turgeon said. "I also liked what I saw from some of our new guys tonight as well. They pounded the zone and you could see the difference with the college guys and their experience. I didn't feel any nervous energy from them and that is a good sign."
The series continues tonight with a single game back at Bowman Field. First pitch for that contest is set for 7:05 p.m.
The Spikes will hand the ball to Jake Burnette, while the Cutters will counter with either Jordan Guth or Hoby Milner.