If there’s been one theme that’s been present in the three games I’ve seen State College this week, it’s this: quiet bats, good pitching, mistakes on the field. That’s pretty much the summary of tonight’s game, as State College lost to Williamsport 3-0, falling for the eighth game in a row. The Spikes offense only managed two hits, while the defense had four errors.
The only hits by the Spikes came on singles. Mel Rojas Jr. led off the fourth inning with a bloop single to shallow center field, then stole second base two batters later. Rojas was stranded after Matt Curry struck out, and Pat Irvine grounded out. Kelson Brown hit a two out single in the sixth inning on a ground ball through the right side of the infield, but was also left stranded.
Cole White drew two walks, while Drew Maggi and Walker Gourley each walked once. Mel Rojas Jr. was the only Spikes base runner to reach second, and the Spikes didn’t have a base runner reach third the entire game.
Zack Dodson made the start for the Spikes in his final appearance of the year. Dodson ran in to some trouble in the first inning, allowing a hard hit double to leadoff hitter Aaron Altherr. Altherr moved to third on a ground out, and scored two batters later on another ground out.
Dodson put runners on first and second in the fourth inning with one out. After a chopper back to the mound, Dodson made a slow turn to second to start the double play, getting the out, but leaving no chance at a play at first base. With two outs, and runners at the corners, Dodson allowed a run to score on a wild pitch, before getting out of the inning. The slow throw on the double play was the second mistake Dodson made tonight on a double play attempt. In the second inning he made a quick throw to second, which almost went low and in to center field. Drew Maggi made a nice save, and a strong throw to first to get the double play.
Overall Dodson was very efficient, throwing five innings and allowing those two runs on four hits, with one walk and one strikeout.
Joely Rodriguez came on to pitch the final three innings. Rodriguez allowed an unearned run in the sixth inning, thanks to two throwing errors on a stolen base attempt. Jeff Lanning led off the inning with a single on a fly ball to left field. Rodriguez got 2010 third round pick Cameron Rupp to strike out swinging, with Lanning running on the pitch. Matt Skirving had a wild throw to second, sailing over the head of a jumping Drew Maggi in to center field. Lanning ran to third, and Mel Rojas Jr. made a hard throw to third which was in the dirt, getting by Walker Gourley and allowing Lanning to score. Rodriguez allowed an infield single, then got two groundouts to end the inning.
Rodriguez retired the side in the seventh inning, getting three straight ground ball outs. Rodriguez allowed a leadoff walk in the eighth inning to Miguel Alvarez. With one out, Alvarez stole second, and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Rodriguez, who was attempting a pitchout. Rodriguez got Rupp to strike out swinging for the second time, then got a ground out to end the inning.
Rodriguez ended up pitching three innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits, with a walk and two strikeouts. There was no radar gun tonight, but Rodriguez didn’t look to be a soft tossing lefty, with hard pitches, and a good pop in the catchers mitt. Without a radar gun, and going on those two factors, I’d guess he was throwing around 90 MPH, maybe a little less. Rodriguez threw a lot of fastballs, and had a lot of horizontal movement on his pitches, throwing from a three-quarters arm angle. He wasn’t afraid to go low and went inside to right handers often. His 6:1 GO/AO ratio was also impressive, as were his two strikeouts against Rupp, a hitter fresh out of a competitive division I program.
Tonight wraps up my portion of the coverage of State College in the minor league season ending tour. Tomorrow I will be covering Altoona, with Justin Wilson on the mound.
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.