A night after posting a solid win, the State College Spikes dropped the final game of their two-game mini-series with the Batavia Muckdogs Wednesday at Batavia’s Dwyer Stadium. The Spikes lost 6-3 as they managed 10 hits off Batavia left-hander Tyler Melling, who was named to the NY-Penn League All-Star Team. But the Spikes hurt themselves with three errors in the first four innings.
“The one thing that was working was my slider,” Creasy said. “That was really good tonight. My fastball was actually a lot more downhill than it normally is, except for the fact that I pretty much threw down the middle every shot. I was having trouble hitting the corners, which is not good. You can tell by the score that I was having trouble hitting the corners. On the positive side, I think my slider was the best it’s ever been.”
State College pitching coach Justin Meccage really agreed with Creasy’s self-assessment.
“He didn’t pitch off the plate enough,” Meccage said. “He was too much in the strike zone. We are trying to get him to be aggressive in the strike zone, but we are trying to get him to pitch off the plate when he is ahead in the count. He didn’t do a very good job of that tonight. The one thing I did see an improvement on, he had five groundball outs and one flyball out. That tells you that there is a little bit of plane to his pitches. The breaking ball is in much better shape than it was in previous outings. That’s something we have worked on in bullpens.”
The 20-year-old Creasy sees every start as a valuable learning experience as he continues to gather information during his first full season of professional baseball.
“I probably have five starts left and I need to go out and take care of business,” Creasy said. “I need to throw downhill more than I have and I need to be able to hit in the corners in future games.”
Left-hander Tom Harlan relieved Creasy in the fourth inning. The 6-foot-6 Harlan was the 13th round pick of the Pirates in the most recent draft out of Fresno State. He is the third Fresno State lefty taken by the Pirates in the last few years with Justin Wilson (2008) and Josh Poytress (2011) being the others.
Harlan ran into some trouble during his first inning of work. He recorded the first out and then a Samuel Gonzalez error at first base allowed Batavia’s Steve Ramos to reach. Ramos eventually scored on a single from Danny Stienstra. Harlan threw 17 pitches during the fourth inning. His fastball sat at 86-88, his curveball was 75-79, and his changeup was 78-79. Harlan was much more successful in the fifth and sixth, recording two scoreless innings.
“I was just pounding the zone, trying to throw strikes, because that’s all you can do out there,” Harlan said.
“He got after it tonight,” Meccage said. “It was very impressive to see him get after it like that tonight, because he hasn’t really done that before tonight. There was tempo to what he was doing. He pitched in off the plate, because a contact like that has to show something off the plate to make his other stuff more effective.”
Since entering pro ball, Harlan noted the Pirates are helping him develop a consistent angle on his pitches.
“I am just working on the leg-kick out of the stretch,” Harlan said. “That’s been kind of a struggle for me. I am just working on that. I am adding that to get a little more angle on my pitches, just to make sure that every pitch is where it should be.”
D.J. Crumlich was one of three State College players named to the NY-Penn League All-Star Team Wednesday. Center fielders Tyler Gaffney and Barrett Barnes also received the honor. The injured Barnes, however, will not play.
Right-handed starters Clay Holmes and Luis Heredia most likely would’ve been named to the team. But they are unavailable to pitch in Tuesday’s game at Mahoning Valley in Niles, Ohio, since they are slated to start in consecutive games this weekend.
Crumlich, the Pirates’ ninth-round pick in June, was drafted as a shortstop, but he has spent this season seeing action at both second and third base. He started the past two nights in Batavia at third.
“It feels good,” Crumlich said of the all-star honor. “It’s my first professional season coming out of college, and to get this recognition, it feels good. I’ve had a pretty good season so far, I think. I’ve struggled the past few weeks, but I feel like I can get my swing back. It’s pretty cool to be an all-star.”
After his junior year at UC Irvine, Crumlich was a 38th round pick of the Pirates in 2011, but the two sides failed to come to an agreement.
“My junior year, just getting my name called was a real honor,” said Crumlich, who is .263 through 43 games. “I talked to the Pirates, and we just couldn’t come to an agreement. I kept in contact with the area scout down in southern California. We had a lot of talks throughout my college season, and I had a pretty good feeling that if I was available in the first few rounds, that the Pirates pick me again.”
Crumlich notes that the transition to professional baseball hasn’t been as difficult as might be anticipated because he gained experience playing in wood-bat college leagues. He said his goal is to help the Spikes make a push for the playoffs.
“I think I just play good, fundamental baseball,” Crumlich said. “I am pretty good on defense, and hitting the ball, I make solid contact. Some of these younger guys that were drafted out of high school, I feel like us college guys can help them. They are not really used to playing more than 25 or 30 games in a season. The older guys, me, Stallings, and Diaz, we can really help out the younger guys.”
— Wednesday’s game will definitely be one that the Spikes will look to forget. Aside from the three errors they made in the first four innings, they will need to re-focus as they head into an important two-game mini-series at division-leading Auburn Thursday and Friday.
— Center fielder Tyler Gaffney left the game in the bottom of the first inning as he face-planted after making a diving attempt at a fly ball. He stayed on the ground momentarily, and was attended to by the State College training staff. From afar, it appeared that Gaffney might have hurt his wrist on the dive, but he left the field under his own power. In the locker room after the game, he had a black eye, a bruise, around his right eye. He said he is fine, and he doesn’t expect to miss any time.