STATE COLLEGE - Jesus Vasquez homered for the first time as a State College Spike to spearhead an offensive attack that staked the Spikes to a 9-3 lead entering the seventh inning, but the Aberdeen IronBirds made a late charge that included four ninth-inning runs to take a 10-9 decision on Sunday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
State College (25-22) brought out the bats early, starting with the very first inning. After Aberdeen (19-28) scored a pair of runs in the top half, an error allowed Tyler Gaffney and Walker Gourley to plate the first Spikes runs. Derek Trent then doubled down the left-field line to bring D.J. Crumlich and make the score 3-2.
The Spikes then surged forward with a four-run third inning. Every run scored with two outs during the frame. Jacob Stallings started it up by reaching on an error, and then Trent singled him over to third. A pair of wild pitches then brought both of them home to make it 5-2 before Vasquez delivered the crowning blow with a two-run homer over the left-field wall off of Aberdeen starter Brady Wager to extend the State College lead to five runs.
In the fourth inning, the IronBirds scored on a Vasquez error to draw within 7-3, but a Stallings RBI single in the fourth inning gave a five-run advantage back to the Spikes. Trent then came up with his third hit, a run-scoring single in the sixth, to make it 9-3.
Aberdeen would begin its comeback in the seventh inning, though. Antonio Vega delivered a one-out double to plate a run, and scored on Gregory Lorenzo's subsequent single to trim the margin to four runs. Lucas Herbst's triple added another marker for the IronBirds before Lance Breedlove replaced Justin Ennis on the mound and shut down the threat.
However, Breedlove ran into difficulties in the ninth inning. After issuing a one-out walk, Lorenzo and Herbst collected back-to-back singles to make it 9-7, Spikes. Tom Harlan (2-5) then entered the game, but yielded an RBI single to Joel Hutter. One batter later, Torsten Boss doubled in the tying run, with Tyler Gaffney's throw home on the same play hitting the pitcher's mound and allowing the eventual game-winning run to score.
Trent went 3-for-5 on the night with his double and knocked in a pair of runs for State College. Vasquez eneded the evening with two hits as well. Gaffney also powered the Spikes reached base four times and scored three runs while getting hit by two more pitches. The former Stanford two-sport star has now been hit by 16 pitches this year in just 25 games.
Harlan took the loss after giving up the winning run on three hits over 2/3 of an inning. Starter Luis Heredia, who turns 18 on Friday, allowed three runs on four hits and a walk over five innings. Heredia also struck out three batters and would have been in line for the win if not for the Aberdeen comeback.
IronBirds reliever Jose Nivar (2-0) got the win after pitching a scoreless eighth inning. Nivar walked a batter and struck out one. Tom Winegardner (3) picked up the save with a scoreless, one-hit ninth inning.
Aberdeen catcher Joe Kimmel went 4-for-5 on the evening, with Lorenzo adding three hits and scoring three runs.
Monday, the Spikes and IronBirds complete their three-game series with a 7:05 p.m. matchup at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. In a change, State College will go with right-hander Clario Perez (0-2) on the mound. Aberdeen's starter is as yet unannounced.