Hurst Homer in 15th Leads Spikes Past West Virginia

GRANVILLE, W.Va. – Scott Hurst’s three-run homer in the 15th inning, the latest home run in State College Spikes history, gave the Spikes a 5-2 win over the West Virginia Black Bears in a Friday night marathon at Monongalia County Ballpark.

(Photo: Scott Hurst. Photo courtesy of State College Spikes)

With the win, the Spikes (30-26) stopped a three-game losing streak and climbed back to within three games of the Black Bears (33-23) for the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division lead. State College also kept pace in the NYPL Wild Card race, staying three games behind Aberdeen for the lone available berth.

Wood Myers’s one-out single and Edwin Figuera’s two-out base hit set up Hurst’s blast to left, his third of the season. The dinger also capped a State College offensive effort in which every run scored via the long ball. Zach Kirtley’s solo shot to left on the first pitch of the seventh, his second of the season, ended a string of 15 straight scoreless innings for the Spikes and cut the margin to 2-1.

Josh Lopez then smashed a 1-1 pitch over the center field wall for another solo homer to tie the game at 2-2 in the eighth. Lopez’s home run was his fourth of the season, but his first since July 1.

West Virginia had taken the lead in the sixth when Sandy Santos delivered a two-out, two-run triple to center field.

The game tied with the Spikes’ 12-11 win against the Batavia Muckdogs on August 30, 2014 for the longest game by innings in franchise history. The five-hour duration of that 15-inning contest remains the longest in the club’s 12 seasons, with Friday’s four-hour, 21 minute affair coming in a tie for seventh-longest.

Bryce Denton collected three hits for the Spikes to help drive the offense. Deon Stafford and Jared Oliva each produced three hits for West Virginia.

State College starter Daniel Castano allowed two runs on eight hits while striking out five batters over seven innings in a no-decsion. Levi MaVorhis and Noel Gonzalez then tossed three scoreless innings each, with MaVorhis recording four strikeouts and Gonzalez notching six.

Robbie Gordon (1-5) then finished the night with a flourish to earn his first win of the year. Gordon, whose first nine pitches were balls, stranded runners at second and third with a strikeout and flyout in the 14th. The right-hander then struck out the side in the 15th to finish the victory.

The 19 strikeouts produced by Spikes pitching tied a record for a single game of any length in franchise history, tying a mark previously set in the Spikes’ 15-inning battle against Batavia in 2014.

NYPL All-Star relief pitcher Adam Oller (3-3) took the loss for West Virginia after going a season-long five innings. Oller allowed three runs on a total of four hits while striking out four batters. The right-hander had not allowed a home run all year before giving up Hurst’s shot in the 15th.

The Spikes now make the long trip to Central New York for a 6:05 p.m. matchup at Falcon Park against the Auburn Doubledays on Saturday. Right-hander Paul Balestrieri (3-2) will get the ball for State College in the opener of a three-game series. Auburn will send left-hander Seth Romero (0-1) to the hill.

Following the series in Auburn, the Spikes will return home to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for a six-game homestand from August 22-27. The West Virginia Black Bears (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Williamsport Crosscutters (Philadelphia Phillies) will serve as the opposition for three games apiece.

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