A five-run bottom of the second inning proved to be the unraveling point for the Auburn Doubledays (6-8) as they fell 8-3 to the State College Spikes (10-5) on Saturday night at Medlar Field. Jake Alu went 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored in the loss that snapped a four-game winning streak for Auburn.
The Spikes opened the scoring in the bottom of the second against Auburn starter RHP Pedro Gonzalez. With one out in the frame, Matt Duce sent a single into center field. After an Andrew Warner single put runners at first and second, State College left fielder Dariel Gomez cracked a double to right field, bringing Duce in to score from third and advancing Warner to third. An infield single from Martin Figueroa then loaded the bases for Jonatan Machado. The Spikes center fielder slapped a would-be double play ball to Auburn second baseman Jake Alu. The former Boston College Eagle made the play to second for the first out, but for the second straight night, shortstop Jose Sanchez mishandled the ball on the transfer, which allowed Warner to dash home and Gomez to move up to third on the play.
The next at-bat in the inning saw Moises Castillo come to the dish. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Castillo sent a hot shot groundball to Jack Dunn at third base. The Northwestern alumnus could not pick the ball on his backhand and it skittered into shallow left. Gomez scored on the play while Machado advanced to third and Castillo moved to second. The onslaught continued with a Carlos Soto line-drive single into right field, scoring both Machado and Castillo and spelling the end of the day for Gonzalez.
With LHP Evan Lee as the first arm out of the bullpen for Auburn, the ninth batter of the inning, Pedro Pages, reached on another error from Dunn, but Lee got Brylie Ware to pop out to first baseman Anthony Peroni in foul territory to end the inning and keep State College’s lead at just 5-0.
The Doubledays got one back in the top of the third against LHP Connor Thomas. Alu and Peroni led off the inning with back-to-back singles and advanced to second and third respectively on a Rafael Bautista groundout. In the very next at-bat, Sanchez grounded out to Castillo at shortstop, but the play was good enough for Alu to race home to score Auburn’s first run of the game and cut the lead to 5-1 Spikes.
State College was not done in the second though and would increase its lead in the third. Duce led things off with an infield single to Sanchez at short. After a Warner flyout, Gomez singled out to left. Figueroa did the same on the next play, allowing Duce to score the sixth Spikes run of the game. A Machado walk loaded the bases and after a Castillo strikeout, Soto drew a free pass of his own to force in another run as Gomez trotted home on the walk to balloon State College’s lead to 7-1.
Auburn inched closer in the next half-inning. After an Andrew Pratt strikeout got things going, Jeremy Ydens smashed a double into deep center field. The former UCLA Bruin advanced to third on a Jake Randa flyout to right. Dunn was then hit by a pitch before Alu slapped a single into left, plating Ydens from second and shrinking the State College advantage ever so slightly to 7-2.
More insurance runs came for the Spikes in the seventh against Bobby Milacki. After retiring the first batter he faced, Milacki gave up a double to Duce. Warner and Gomez followed with a single and a walk respectively to load the bags for Figueroa who smacked a line-drive single into center to score Duce. Milacki induced a double-play from Machado to end the frame and strand the bases loaded, but the Spikes took their largest lead of the game at 8-2.
Auburn went out with a bang in the top of the ninth. With Fabian Blanco on the mound for State College, Randa cranked his first professional home run over the right-center-field fence. Later in the inning, the DDays got two runners into scoring position before Blanco struck out Sanchez to end the game with an 8-3 final.
The Doubledays look to get back in the win column in the rubber match of the three-game set with the Spikes at 6:05 at Medlar Field. RHP Carlos Romero is set to get the ball for Auburn opposite State College’s scheduled starter RHP Scott Politz.
Listen to Sunday night’s game LIVE on FingerLakes1.com Radio.
By JD Raucci / Auburn Doubledays
— Auburn Doubledays (@Doubledays) June 30, 2019