AUBURN, N.Y. - Jesus Vasquez smashed his fifth home run of the season to pull into a tie for the State College Spikes' team lead, but the Auburn Doubledays came from behind late to topple the Spikes, 6-3, in the rubber match of a three-game series at Falcon Park on Thursday night.
Vasquez, who joined the Spikes (30-33) just over two week ago, sent the first pitch he saw from Auburn (38-25) reliever Silvio Medina in the fourth inning sailing over the left field wall and onto the roof of the batting tunnel at the ballpark to enlarge the State College lead to 3-0. The outfielder is now even with Barrett Barnes for the team lead on the 2012 season.
The Spikes had started building their lead in the first inning. Jodaneli Carvajal doubled off of the right-field fence to start the game, then scored on Walker Gourley's double immediately after. One batter later, Jacob Stallings singled in Gourley to make it 2-0, State College, before Vasquez's homer.
The Doubledays started to come back in the fourth inning, though. Three hits and a hit batsman set up two bases-loaded situations, and each time Auburn produced a sacrifice fly to score a run. Carlos Alvarez and Wes Schill knocked in those runners, although Schill needed Estarlin Martinez to elude the tag at the plate following a throw from Vasquez in right to notch his RBI.
In the seventh inning, Auburn mounted its biggest assault. After Schill grounded out, Spikes reliever Kevin Kleis walked Spencer Kieboom and was lifted from the game for left-hander Tom Harlan (2-6). The Doubledays then produced three straight hits, with Tony Renda's single scoring Kieboom to tie the game. With the bases loaded, Martinez then sacrificed Mike McQuillan home on a fly ball to left field to give the Doubledays their first lead of the game.
Two more Auburn hits off of Harlan from Brandon Miller and Alvarez completed the scoring.
Vasquez joined Samuel Gonzalez and Chris Diaz as Spikes with multi-hit games.
Harlan took the loss after allowing three runs on five hits during his one-third of an inning on the mound. Starter Adrian Sampson lasted 4 1/3 innings for State College before leaving with the lead. The right-hander, who is still in search of his first pro win after being drafted by the Pirates in the fifth round this year, gave up two runs on four hits, two walks and a hit batsman. Sampson also struck out four.
Reliever Travis Henke (5-1) got the win for Auburn with three scoreless innings from the sixth through the eighth. Henke yielded three hits while striking out four batters. Cody Davis (3) pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his second save of the series.
Doubledays starter Ivan Pineyro allowed both Spikes runs in the first inning, but left the game in the second after apparently suffering an injury while warming up for the frame.
The loss dropped the Spikes eight games back of Auburn in the Pinckney Division with 13 to play. Auburn also earned the series victory for the three-game set at Falcon Park.
Friday, the Spikes head back home to start a six-game homestand as they take on the Jamestown Jammers (Washington Nationals) in a 7:05 p.m. matchup at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The first game of a three-game series will feature 18-year-old right-hander Luis Heredia (3-1) on the mound for State College. Heredia is 2-0 at home this year, and will look to rebound after allowing four runs over 3 1/3 innings in his last start against Auburn.