Spikes Rally Behind Yhonathan Barrios, Bullpen for 5-3 Win

The Spikes came from behind to beat the Staten Island Yankees 5-3 at Medlar field on Thursday night. Starter Jake Burnette spotted the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and Yankee starter Corey Black was impressive in his five scoreless innings. In the sixth, the Spikes scored three to tie the score behind singles from Jared LaKind, Yhonathan Barrios, and Tyler Gaffney (RBI), aided by a ground out RBI from Ryan Hornback and a wild pitch to score Gaffney. Then in the 7th, Barrios delivered a go-ahead RBI, plating Jacob Stallings who had doubled. Gaffney singled to center, capping the scoring, as Barrios, running on the pitch, came all the way around to score when the Yankee center fielder bobbled the ball. Tom Harlan got the win in relief with three shutout innings, and Jordan Cooper added two scoreless for the save.


Barrios Leads Spikes at the Plate

Second baseman Yhonathan Barrios broke out of a 1-for-15 slump, going 3 for 3 and knocking in the go-ahead RBI in the 7th inning. Barrios has struggled at the plate on the season, and has lost some playing time as a result. Tonight’s solid appearance with three hard hit singles, including an opposite field knock against Black in the 3rd, is hopefully a sign of things to come.

“I’ve been working on my front foot work a little bit to help me see the ball a little better,” he says.

“With Yhonathan, it’s about aggression,” Turgeon added. “It’s about being in advantaged counts and looking to do damage, not filet the ball out into the field.”

Barrios’ speed is a key asset, and he impressively scored from first on a Gaffney single to center in the 7th. He is second on the team in steals with six despite sitting several games due to his offensive woes.


Harlan and Cooper Effective in Relief

2012 13th round draft pick Tom Harlan got the win in relief giving up no runs and three hits in three innings of work, while adding one strikeout. His fastball sat at 86-88 mph, but showed good arm-side movement. Meccage has been working with the lefty to improve the downward plane on the fastball, which looked good tonight. Downward plane improves the effectiveness of the fastball in spite of its slower velocity. Harlan’s sweeping curve was spotty, at times up in the zone, but he threw a nice one to freeze lead-off hitter Taylor Dugas for his only strikeout.

2011 23rd round draftee Jordan Cooper began the year in West Virginia, returning to State College after some early struggles. His fastball was sharp at 92-94 tonight (touching 95 once), and he threw a few good off-speed pitches, including a slider in the dirt to ring up Peter O’Brien in the 8th. He ended the night by getting former Spike Exicardo Cayones to strikeout on a well-placed fastball on the outside half and down in the zone. Cooper’s success can hinge on entering games with an aggressive mentality and attacking hitters with his fastball.

“We’ve been working on his mentality,” says Meccage. “He didn’t have a good time in West Virginia but it was because of the mentality, not because of the stuff. Now, he’s been attacking hitters.”

Cooper has not allowed a run in 10.1 innings since joining State College.


Jake Burnette Battles Through Tough Outing

2011 7th round draft pick Jake Burnette was coming off his best outing of the season, a five-inning effort against Tri-Cities when he gave up one earned run and got the victory. Tonight he struggled, falling behind many hitters and leaving several pitches up in the zone, resulting in three earned runs in four innings of work. Burnette does not miss many bats (strikeout per nine = 3.43), so good command is necessary for his success.

“We were really looking to get ahead of hitters, and I fell behind a lot tonight,” says Burnette. “Then battling back, I had to give them some pitches to hit,” he adds.

Nonetheless, Burnette got a few timely outs, and pitching coach Justin Meccage viewed the young right-hander’s mentality as a positive.

“He really competed for four innings, and was able to limit the damage,” Meccage says.


Yankee Prospect Quiets Spikes’ Bats Early

Staten Island’s starter Corey Black was drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 draft. The Spikes managed only two hits against the 5’ 11” right-hander from NAIA Faulkner University in Alabama. Black showed excellent command (67% strike rate) and only needed 49 pitches to get through five innings, striking out three and walking none. His above-average fastball (sitting 94 mph on the night, touching 96 once) and plus slider stymied the Spikes line-up.

“I was glad they got [Black] out of there. He had a really good fastball and a plus slider. He was very effective,” said manager Dave Turgeon.


Other Notes

**Third basemen D.J. Crumlich went hitless, but flashed great defense at third base tonight. His diving backhanded stop in the 7th saved two runs, and in the ninth he made a barehand play on a good bunt to get Dugas at first.

**Center fielder Barrett Barnes was hitless also, but he walked twice and added two stolen bases to now lead the team with seven.

**The Spikes continued to be aggressive on the base paths, something Turgeon has been preaching. They have put pressure on the opposing team’s defense, and the manager is fine with his player’s testing themselves, even if it leads to outs occasionally.

**Former Spike Exicardo Cayones, one of two minor leaguers traded to the Yankees for A.J. Burnett, went 1-for-5 in his return to Medlar field.

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John Eshleman

John Eshleman joined Pirates Prospects in 2012, providing live coverage of the State College Spikes and the Altoona Curve. He will return for the 2013 season to provide coverage of the Jamestown Jammers while they are in State College. He will also be providing coverage of the Altoona Curve throughout the year. John is currently earning a Ph.D in Rural Sociology from Penn State University, and he lives in State College with his fiance Allison. Also, he hates the designated hitter rule.

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