Spikes fall short in season opener, 3-2

Sports
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 Nick Dunn, Brendan Donovan and Lars Nootbaar all picked up their first professional hits, but the State College Spikes fell to the Williamsport Crosscutters, 3-2, in the opening game of the 2018 New York-Penn League season for both teams at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field.
 
Dunn, the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2018 fifth-round draft choice out of Maryland, led off the fourth inning with a double down the first-base line to put the Spikes (0-1) into the hit column. The native of nearby Sunbury, Pa. then scored on Donovan’s triple to right-center field to put State College in front.
 
Donovan, who was selected by the Cardinals in the seventh round of this year’s draft out of South Alabama, went on to cross the plate himself on Brady Whalen’s double to center field to give the Spikes a 2-0 lead.
 
The Crosscutters (1-0) rallied, though, tying the game with Julio Francisco’s two-run homer to right in the sixth inning. In the seventh, Danny Mayer led off with a triple to center field and scored on Brayan Gonzalez’s single through the middle of a drawn-in infield.
 
Nootbaar, the Cardinals’ 2018 eighth-round draft choice out of USC, delivered his first hit with a line-drive single to center in the fifth inning.
 
Delvin Perez, the Cardinals’ 2016 first-round draft choice, added a double to the Spikes’ offensive cause.
 
Right-hander Franyel Casadilla delivered a strong start, allowing two runs on five hits, including the Francisco home run, while striking out four batters over 5 2/3 innings. Spikes reliever Gabe Gentner took the loss after allowing the go-ahead run on two hits while recording one strikeout in one inning of work.
 
Williamsport reliever Randy Alcantara (1-0) picked up the win after tossing three innings of scoreless, two-hit ball. Alcantara also notched a strikeout. Luis Ramirez (1) earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out one batter in the process.
 
Mayer collected three hits, half of the Crosscutters’ total, in three at-bats on the night.
 
Neither time committed an error or walked a batter in the game.
 
Saturday, the two teams meet at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for the middle game of their series. Right-hander Winston Nicacio will get the ball for State College as the Spikes begin their home schedule, while Williamsport will turn to right-hander Francisco Morales.
 
Fans will enjoy a jam-packed slate of events for Opening Night, presented by PSECU and media sponsor NEWSRADIO 1390 WRSC.
 
Fans at the game can enter LuCKy’s Kia Giveaway at the Lion Country Kia table on the concourse throughout the night, as well at the Spikes Ticket Office. No purchase is necessary, and one “LuCKy” fan will be chosen to drive away from the ballpark a winner with a 2018 Kia Forte LX. Although only one fan is guaranteed to win on Opening Night, everyone will have another opportunity when Lion Country Kia presents the second edition of LuCKy’s Kia Giveaway at the regular season home finale on Friday, August 31 as part of Fan Appreciation Night.
 
The ballpark fun will begin early on Opening Night in State College as ballpark gates open at the special time of 5 p.m. for the Opening Night Pre-Game Tailgate. Fans of age can enjoy a $1 Beer Kickoff, with 12 oz. domestic draft beers available for just $1 apiece from 5-6 p.m., and all fans will be able to partake in tailgate games around the stadium.
 
In addition, the first 1,000 fans will receive a Schedule Magnet Giveaway, presented by PSECU, so as not to miss any of the action on the Spikes’ 2018 home schedule.
 
The pre-game pomp and pageantry of Opening Night also includes a ceremonial first pitch by Penn State men’s basketball head coach Patrick Chambers, and fans can take their photos with the NIT Championship Trophy won by the Penn State men’s basketball team this spring.
 
The Opening Night fun finishes with the opportunity for kids 12 and under to run the bases.

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