The first two series between the State College Spikes and the Williamsport Crosscutters ended in sweeps -- the first by the Cutters and the second by the Spikes.
This week's three-game set was no different.
Williamsport completed its sweep behind 15 hits, beating State College 7-6 Friday night in front of a record 5,807 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Spikes (20-21) drop below .500 and, in fourth place, are now five games behind the Pinckney Division-leading Cutters (25-16).
"We just got outplayed in every category," State College manager Gary Robinson said. "Simple as that."
Tyler Waldron got the start from the hill for the Spikes, and saw his 14-inning scoreless streak quickly come to an end. The Cutters sent seven men to the plate in the first inning, tallying three runs on four hits. Williamsport extended its lead to four on an RBI single by designated hitter Jim Klocke in the third.
One night after not getting a hit until there were two outs in the seventh inning, the Spikes managed just one in the first four innings Friday night. However, the bats finally got going in the fifth inning in an eventual 10-hit State College performance.
Catcher Matt Skirving doubled to left-center to lead off the fifth. Then right fielder Cole White hit a fly ball inbetween Cutters centerfielder Kyrell Hudson and leftfielder Aaron Altherr. Hudson appeared to catch the ball but collided with Altherr and the ball hit the ground. Skirving scored on the play and White hustled all the way to third. White was then driven in on a line drive single by center fielder Mel Rojas Jr.
The Cutters came right back, scoring an unearned run in the sixth off Spikes reliever Brooks Pounders and a run in the seventh and eighth inning each courtesy of Justin Ennis.
"We did not defend but one inning all night," Robinson said. "Every time we scored, we let them score. That's a problem. You can't stop their momentum if you keep letting them have it back."
White gave fans something to cheer about in the seventh hitting when he hit a fastball over the fence in left-center field. It was White's first home run of the year, and his first since July 3rd, 2008, during his first go-around with the Spikes before his two-year stint serving in the Army. White knew it was out of the park as soon as he hit it.
"It felt good," White said. "I knew it was going to happen sometime this season, and it just felt good off the bat, and I saw a fastball I was looking for and as soon as I hit it I pretty much knew it felt good."
Spikes infielder Andy Vazquez pinch hit for second baseman Walker Gourley, and hit a two-run home run to left field in the eighth in his only at-bat of the game, and first plate appearance since July 16.
"He's got a lot of pop," Robinson said. "If he squares the ball up, it goes far. And [Vazquez] has been working his fanny off, and he's been very patient. The kids going to get some more at-bats, not because of the home run but he needs more at-bats anyway."
First baseman Gerlis Rodriguez, who replaced Matt Curry in the top of the ninth, singled to right field to drive in a run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, cutting the deficit to one. Chase Lyles worked the count full before popping out to shallow right field to end the game.
A couple of mistakes during the game didn't help the Spikes cause, such as a miscommunication on a hit-and-run eighth that helped the Cutters score their seventh run.
"We have to damage control innings," Robinson said. "And we certainly don't want to shoot ourselves in the foot. It's hard to play baseball with your head in your rear end."
The Spikes now embark on a four-game road trip, which starts at 7:05 tonight against the Auburn Doubledays at Falcon Park in Auburn N.Y.
"You're goal in every series is to win the series, and we just came up short," White said. "At midnight tonight, we'll shake it and we'll just move on and learn from our mistakes and try not to make them in the future."