Archive for the ‘State College Spikes’ category

Tigers take series with 2-1 win

July 16, 2010

With one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the first inning, Connecticut Tigers designated hitter Matt Perry hit a routine ground ball to State College Spikes second baseman Andy Vazquez.  With Josh Ashenbrenner bearing down on second base, Vazquez hurriedly flipped the ball wide of shortstop Walker Gourley and into the outfield.

Connecticut Tigers pitcher Patrick Cooper allowed 1 run in 6 innings of work

The error allowed Alexander Nunez to score and moved Ashenbrenner to third base.

Had Vazquez made the play, the Spikes might have turned an inning-ending double play and cruised to a 1-0 victory at Dodd Stadium Friday night.  Instead, the error allowed Nunez to score and kept the inning alive for the Tigers.

Ashenbrenner would score shortly after on a sacrifice fly by Julio Rodriguez and the Tigers went on to win 2-1 in a game that lasted only one hour and thirty-nine minutes.  The game was so quick that it was barely dark enough for the post-game fireworks.

Tigers starting pitcher Patrick Cooper was excellent in the victory, notching seven strikeouts and allowing only one run on two hits through six innings.  His fastball sat 88-90 mph and he mixed in a slider and changeup.

Michael Torrealba pitched the final three innings for the Tigers and earned a save for his effort.  He notched four strikeouts and continued his domination of the New York-Penn League, setting up hitters with a 92-93 mph fastball and inducing them to swing and miss at his high 80s slider.

The Tigers will travel to Fishkill, N.Y. for a three-game series against the Hudson Valley Renegades beginning on Saturday.  Rayni Guichardo (1-1, 4.57) is scheduled to start Saturday for the Tigers.

Mendoza helps Tigers snap skid

July 15, 2010

Connecticut Tigers starting pitcher Clemente Mendoza entered Thursday’s game against the State College Spikes with a 1-3 record and a 7.88 ERA, disappointing numbers for a player who had led the Oneonta Tigers in ERA the previous season.

Clemente Mendoza pitched 8 scoreless innings to shut down the Spikes offense

If Thursday night’s performance is any indication, Mendoza is back on track.  The 19-year-old right-hander baffled the Spikes, pitching eight innings of two-hit ball while recording seven strikeouts.  In the process, Mendoza helped the Tigers snap a four-game losing streak.

Spikes starting pitcher Zack Dodson held the Tigers scoreless through the first two innings, but the Connecticut offense broke through with two-out rally in the third.

Alexander Nunez got the Tigers offense going by crushing a double to deep left center field.  Matt Perry followed with single that was just deep enough to score Nunez, who dove head-first into home plate to slip under the tag.

Chris Sedon worked a walk to keep the rally going.  Then Perry and Sedon moved up 90 feet after a passed ball by Spikes catcher Matthew Skirving.  Julio Rodriguez walked to load the bases for James Robbins, who sharply hit a ground ball up the middle for a two RBI single.

Robbins added a third RBI to his total with a fifth-inning double that scored Perry from third base and gave the Tigers a 4-0 lead.

The Tigers would add a fifth and final run in the eighth inning when Ryan Soares scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Londell Taylor.

Tigers relief pitcher Antonio Cruz finished the game using a 90-91 mph fastball and a high 70s slider to navigate through the heart of the Spikes’ batting order in the ninth inning.

The Tigers will conclude their series with the Spikes at 7:05 p.m. on Friday at Dodd Stadium.  Patrick Cooper (1-1, 4.09) is expected to get the start for the Tigers.  He will be opposed by Quinton Miller (0-0, 5.40) of the Spikes.

Tigers lose 11-1 rout

July 14, 2010

A return to the friendly confines of Dodd Stadium did not help the Connecticut Tigers snap their losing streak, as the Tigers lost 11-1 to the State College Spikes Wednesday.

Connecticut Tigers starting pitcher Brennan Smith allowed 6 earned runs in 2.1 innings pitched

Tigers starting pitcher Brennan Smith had his first rocky outing of the season, allowing six earned runs on eight hits in 2.1 innings pitched.  He struggled with his location, allowing two walks in the first inning and hanging a curveball in the third inning, which Kelson Brown lined into right field for a two RBI single.

The Spikes got on the scoreboard early, scoring two runs in the first inning after RBI singles from Matt Curry and Chase Lyles.  They failed to score in the second, but added four runs in the third, knocking Smith out of the game after five straight hits.

The Tigers responded with a run in the bottom of the third inning, when P.J. Polk scored on a sacrifice fly from Eric Roof, but it was the only offense the Tigers would muster all night.

James Robbins was 2-4 for the Tigers in a losing effort.

The Tigers and Spikes play again at 7:05 on Thursday at Dodd Stadium.  Clemente Mendoza (1-3, 7.88) is expected to start for the Tigers.  He will be opposed by Zack Dodson (0-1, 5.09) of the Spikes.

Tigers to take on Spikes

July 14, 2010

After being swept on the road by the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Connecticut Tigers will return home to Dodd Stadium for a three-game series against the State College Spikes, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Spikes enter the series two and a half games behind the Jamestown Jammers in the Pinckney Division with a 13-12 record.  The Tigers own an identical 13-12 record, but find themselves with a steeper hill to climb, as they are five games behind the Vermont Lake Monsters in the Stedler Division.

The Spikes’ second baseman is South African-born Gift Ngoepe, who might have a more interesting background than any player in Minor League Baseball.

Ngoepe grew up in a baseball clubhouse.  Literally.  His mother cooked and cleaned in the clubhouse of a South African club team in exchange for the ability to call the clubhouse home.  Ngoepe’s story was chronicled last summer by Sports Illustrated’s Gary Smith.

The Spikes also boast an impressive group of young pitchers.  Zack Von Rosenberg, Brooks Pounders, Zack Dodson, Trent Stevenson and Colton Cain were all drafted by the Pirates out of high school in 2009.

In an interview conducted in May, Wilbur Miller told Connecticut Tiger Den that Von Rosenberg had good command of three pitches including a fastball, curveball and changeup.  His fastball reportedly sat 88-91 mph when he was drafted, but Miller said he was only throwing 83-88 mph when he saw him in March.

Miller said Cain and Stevenson have to most upside among the other pitchers.  “They’ve shown the most potential velocity if they can develop their mechanics and if Stevenson, who’s extremely thin, fills out,” Miller said.  “Pounders is a finesse guy. Dodson throws in the low 90s with a very good curve.”

The Tigers/Spikes series kicks off on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.  Brennan Smith (0-0, 0.64) is expected to start on the mound for the Tigers.  He will be opposed by Von Rosenberg (0-4, 5.57) of the Spikes.

Previewing the State College Spikes

May 29, 2010

The State College Spikes, New York-Penn League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, finished last season in third place in the Pinckney Division with a 38-38 record.  They will play a three game series against the Connecticut Tigers July 14-16 at Dodd Stadium.

Pirates prospect expert Wilbur Miller joined Connecticut Tiger Den to help preview the 2010 Spikes.  His work can be found at this link.

Stephen Hamel: Do you expect Zach Von Rosenberg to be the ace of State College’s pitching staff? Can you give a brief scouting report on him?

Wilbur Miller: I think the plan with von Rosenberg was to have him stay in EST for a while and then go to West Virginia. That’s what they did last year with Quinton Miller, although he made a couple of starts for State College first. The Pirates’ view now seems to be that high school players should get acclimatized in EST and/or the GCL and then go to full season ball if they’re ready.

When he was drafted, von Rosenberg supposedly threw 88-91, with good command of a curve and change. When I saw him in training camp in March, though, he was throwing 83-88, which was a bit concerning. Hopefully, he’s built up his velocity since then.

SH: Jeff Inman struggled his junior year at Stanford. Is that why he was not assigned to a full-season team? What kind of stuff does he have? Do you expect his stay in State College to be a short one if he gets off to a hot start with the Spikes?

WM: Inman was shut down with shoulder soreness at Stanford. The Pirates held off having him pitch in 2009 except for a couple brief appearances toward the end of the year. This year, he was throwing as high as 96 in camp and was on the West Virginia roster to start the season, but never appeared. I have no idea what the problem is. I think he’d be with the Power if he was healthy, so he may not be available to pitch at State College. If he is and shows he’s healthy, I doubt he’ll be there long.

SH: The Pirates have several high school arms from their ’09 draft class in extended spring training. Among the quartet of Colton Cain, Brooks Pounders, Trent Stevenson and Zack Dodson, who is likely to be assigned to State College? Who has the most upside?

WM: I expect the Pirates’ plan with these four was about the same as with Von Rosenberg—whichever ones look the best in EST will probably get a chance to go directly to West Virginia, or maybe make just a brief stop at State College. Stevenson and Dodson may be the most likely to spend a lot of time at State College. Pounders is probably the most advanced of the four and should be able to make it to full season ball. Cain had back surgery in the off-season and has only recently been cleared to pitch. If he’s able to pitch in games, he may be in the GCL.

Cain and Stevenson probably have the most upside. They’ve shown the most potential velocity if they can develop their mechanics and if Stevenson, who’s extremely thin, fills out. Pounders is a finesse guy. Dodson throws in the low 90s with a very good curve.

SH: Wes Freeman struggled this season with the West Virginia Power and was demoted to extended spring training. Do you expect him to be assigned to State College when the New York-Penn League season begins? What are the strengths and weaknesses of his game?

WM: I’m sure Freeman will go to State College. He’s a big, athletic guy with good speed and a strong arm. His defensive play, especially the arm, made a big impression on people who saw him play for the Power. He has a lot of raw power but massive problems making contact. That last is the issue he has to overcome.

SH: Gift Ngoepe is certainly an interesting story as he attempts to become the first African-born player to reach the Major Leagues. Can you give a brief scouting report on him? Is there a chance he moves up to State College this season?

WM: Ngoepe is very athletic, with good speed and very good range in the field. He’s a good defensive player already, but not advanced with the bat. He didn’t see much quality pitching until he became a pro. The Pirates have said he’ll open back in the GCL, but if he shows improvement with the bat they may move him up. They do consider him a real prospect and not a stunt or anything.

SH: Is there anyone else in extended spring training who could make an impact with State College this season?

WM: The Pirates have some good prospects coming up from Latin America and they don’t hesitate to push guys who perform well. One guy I’d look for is OF Exicardo Cayones. If he does well in EST or gets off to a strong start in the GCL, they might move him up. Among the pitchers, one guy who might be in the opening rotation for State College is LHP Jhonathan Ramos, who made a strong showing last year in the GCL. He’s on the Power roster now, but that may only be a temporary assignment due to some injuries.

I’d like to thank Wilbur Miller for helping me preview the 2010 State College Spikes.