NILES, Ohio - Joely Rodriguez was superb on the mound, tossing five scoreless frames to start the game, but the State College Spikes let a late lead slip away for the second night in a row as the Mahoning Valley Scrappers took a 3-2 decision on Friday night at Eastwood Field.
Rodriguez made his third start of the year his best by allowing just three hits and a walk over his tenure on the mound. The southpaw also struck out three batters, including two in his final inning of work.
State College (7-5) had to wait out a 1 hour, 14 minute weather delay before the game could begin, but jumped on the board in the third inning. Chris Diaz singled with one out and proceeded to steal second base and advanced to third on Barrett Barnes's single. Diaz then scored on a groundout by Samuel Gonzalez to give the Spikes a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, State College manufactured another run. Yhonathan Barrios led off with a single and stole second base before going to third on a flyout. Jared Lakind then brought Barrios in with a groundout to make it a 2-0 Spikes lead.
Mahoning Valley (5-7) would start its comeback in the seventh inning, however. Spikes reliever Adrian Sampson, who retired the Scrappers 1-2-3 with a pair of strikeouts in the sixth inning, gave up a one-out single to Joe Wendle. Hunter Jones followed with a double down the left field line, his first hit of the series, to plate Wendle. Jones would then score on Aaron Siliga's base hit one batter later to tie the game, 2-2.
The Scrappers then took their first and last lead of the game in the eighth inning. Tyler Naquin started the frame by reaching second base on a Lakind error. After a sacrifice bunt, Charlie Valerio delivered a sacrifice fly to center field to score Naquin and make it 3-2, Mahoning Valley.
Jordan Cooper (0-1) took the loss after allowing the Scrappers' eighth-inning run, which was unearned, in his lone inning of work. Sampson, who made his professional debut on Friday, struck out four batters over two innings while allowing two runs on a total of four hits.
Jacob Lee (1-0) earned the win in relief for Mahoning Valley after retiring all eight batters he faced, four via strikeout, over 2 2/3 innings. Lee took over for Scrappers starter Jake Sisco, whose 6 1/3 innings were the most in a single outing for a Spikes opponent on the mound. Sisco yielded both State College runs on a total of six hits and two walks.
Wendle went 3-for-4 on the game for Mahoning Valley, one night after driving in the game-winning run as a pinch-hitter.
Saturday, the Spikes finish their six-game road trip with the last of a three-game series against the Scrappers at Eastwood Field. The matchup, scheduled for 7:05 p.m., will pit State College right-hander Jake Burnette (0-1), the Pirates' seventh-round draft choice in 2011, against Mahoning Valley right-hander Luis DeJesus (0-0), whose 0.82 ERA places him among the New York-Penn League's leaders.
Following the game, the Spikes will come back home Sunday to start a three-game homestand.