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State College unloads in fourth inning, shuts out Crosscutters in series opener

Williamsport Crosscutters Nemo Wright is tagged out at third in the bottom of the third by Nick Gile of the State College Spikes at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 12, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Once upon a time in the first series of the season, the Crosscutters let up eight runs against State College and mounted a comeback, forcing the first ever sudden death and scraping by with a win.

Fast forward to Friday night, in the very same fourth inning in which the Spikes once found that spark, they did so again with their second-half roster. This time, Williamsport wasn’t able to put out the fire.

After unloading four hits and five runs in the top of the fourth — and rattling off 11 hits altogether — State College shut out Williamsport, 11-0 at Bowman Field in the series opener between both clubs. It was just the second shutout of the season.

Following three scoreless innings, the Spikes (11-9) jammed the Crosscutters (12-6) with two players hit by pitches around a single from third baseman Nick Gile. With the bases loaded and no outs, Josh Madole cashed in by roping a ball to right field, driving in two.

Second baseman Marques Paige doubled on a line drive to center, adding another RBI and prompting Williamsport’s first pitching change. Henderson State University righty Spencer Taack was relieved by Tyler Prospero and finished with four hits, three strikeouts and three walks.

Nick Gile of the State College Spikes drops a pop fly in the infield hit by the Crosscutter’s Nemo Wright at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 12, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

From there, Trent Taylor reached on an error from Daniel Harris, which brought in a fourth run on the play and kept runners in scoring position with no outs. Brody Perkes hit a sacrifice fly, but another out was made at third for a double play after the run was scored. A strikeout pulled the Crosscutters out of the lengthy, chaotic inning.

“This is the game of baseball. We’re gonna have bad games, we’re gonna have good games. We’re gonna wipe this out as one of those bad ones and move forward,” Williamsport manager Jesse Litsch said.

Paige added another two runs by sending a shot 386 feet over the left wall with one runner on in the following inning. With a single in the top of the second, the Northwestern Oklahoma State product was a triple away from hitting for the cycle.

He added another double in the seventh and became just the second State College Spike in franchise history to homer in three straight games.

“You put the barrel on the ball, good things happen. He had the approach, went all field,” Litsch said.

Williamsport Crosscutters starting pitcher Spencer Taack throws in the first inning against the State College Spikes at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 12, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Luis Aviles hit the second two-run homer of the night with a 341-foot bomb over the left wall just inside the pole in the sixth. Taylor added another run on a sacrifice fly the following inning.

It wasn’t until the bottom of the fifth inning that Williamsport found its only hit of the game. Nemo Wright ripped a line drive to left field for a two-out single before working his way to second base. A groundout erased him, keeping the Crosscutters off the board.

Through six scoreless innings of work, Jalan Daniels struck out just three Crosscutters. But with only one hit from Wright, he kept hitters off balance all night and pitched two 1-2-3 innings.

“Realistically right now, our approach at the plate right now sucks. He threw the ball well, kept hitters off balance and it’s one of those things where we’re still in first place. We get back out there, we keep going through the motions,” Litsch said. “That’s the only thing we can do. He threw the ball well, he got the best of us tonight, but it won’t be the last we see (Daniels). We see State College a ton, so we’ll get a chance to get him back down the road.”

A wild pitch brought in State College’s final run in the top of the ninth inning. Both clubs made one error apiece. Catcher Mitch Hundley pitched the final two innings and struck out two with one hit allowed.

Williamsport Crosscutters Connor Denning fields a ball in right field hit by Josh Madole of the State College Spikes in the top of the fifth inning at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 12, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

“We are where we need to be, which is the top of everything,” Litsch said. “Moving forward, we keep pitching the way we’ve been, we keep playing the way we’ve been, we’re gonna be fine.”

Williamsport Crosscutters catcher Jake Urena waits for play to resume as Marques Paige (11) and Josh Madole (23) of the State College Spikes celebrate after both scored in the fifth inning at Muncy Bank Ballpark, August 12, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

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