State College got a great start from left hander Mike Jefferson tonight, who pitched five shutout innings. They also got a solo homer from Alex Dickerson in the first inning, and took a 3-1 lead in to the ninth. A two RBI triple by Batavia tied the game, on a bad read by center fielder Taylor Lewis, who went for an awkward dive and let the ball get past him and roll to center field. The Spikes ended up taking the game in the bottom of the ninth inning when Junior Sosa hit a two out, RBI single to bring in Alex Fuselier from second base.
Here are my reports from tonight’s game.
Jefferson was taken in the 22nd round this year as a college senior out of Louisiana Tech. The left hander has been working in the State College rotation lately, with a 2.84 ERA in 19 innings in the month of August, coming in to tonight’s start. Tonight he pitched five shutout innings, allowing two hits, walking one, and striking out one. He was pounding the strike zone, and mostly pitching to contact, but he was efficient. He only needed seven pitches to get a one, two, three inning in the third. He gave up a double in the first with two outs, and the only other hit came in the fifth on a bunt single to third base.
Jefferson was throwing almost exclusively fastballs tonight, sitting mostly 87-88 MPH, but ranging from 86-89. He mostly drove the ball down, pitching to both sides of the plate, but a few times he cut off the fastball, leaving it up in the zone, almost like a hard, hanging breaking ball.
When I asked Mike about his strong performances lately since moving to the rotation, he mentioned that he’s been working on some mechanical adjustments with pitching coach Justin Meccage. The main adjustment has been working on staying back with his delivery.
“I had a real tendency of trying to almost run towards the plate,” Jefferson said. “So I’m really just trying to stay back.”
He showed some nice movement on his curveball in warmups, but barely used it in the game. He might run in to trouble in the upper levels if he continues to cut off the fastball like he did tonight, so continued consistency with the pitch and repeating his delivery is obviously a key thing for him to work on going forward.
Tonight I got a chance to see some of Dickerson’s power at work. In the first inning, Dickerson came up with two outs and crushed a home run to right field on a 1-1 chngeup that was left up over the plate. Medlar Field has the exact same dimensions as PNC Park, and the homer went over the 375 foot sign, to the left of the State College version of the Clemente wall. The ball was easily 400+ feet, and might have had a shot at the river at PNC on a bounce or two.
When I saw Dickerson last week, he had some plate patience issues, but did have a hit to the opposite field on a pitch that was away. He continued hitting the ball where it was pitched tonight, although he only had the one hit.
“That’s something I’ve always kind of done my whole life, being able to hit to all fields has been kind of an important thing,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson mentioned that he made a few adjustments today, getting his hands back and getting a more solid base. That obviously worked for him with the home run, and he also hit a hard liner to the opposite field, which went right to the left fielder for an out.
Rodarrick Jones – I’ve seen Jones twice, and have been impressed with his hitting. He hasn’t done anything special, just simply putting the bat on the ball, and making strong contact.
Alex Fuselier – His overall numbers haven’t been strong, but I’ve been impressed with his tools. One that he showed tonight was a strong arm, making a great throw from right field which froze a runner between second and third, and resulted in a 9-5-6 double play. He also showed some great base running, stealing second base in the ninth inning to set up the winning run.
Junior Sosa – Funny moment in the ninth inning. Sosa came up to the plate with two outs and a runner on second. After working the count, he took a ball outside, tossed his bat aside, and started trotting down to first base. The only problem? It was ball three. Sosa came back down the line to a full count, then sent a line drive to center field, over the center fielder’s head as he was playing in for the small leadoff hitter. That allowed Alex Fuselier to score, giving the Spikes the 4-3 win.
Jordan Cooper – Cooper worked three innings, allowing one run on three hits, with a walk and two strikeouts. He was working in the 89-92 MPH range, touching 93, and mostly sitting 90-91 with his fastball. He was a little wild in the first inning he threw, but a lot of the time when he missed, he missed low. He mostly threw fastballs, but did throw a few off-speed pitches, with a big breaking curveball. The pitch had nice movement, although he left it up for a ball the first time he threw it, definitely a dangerous thing to do. It looks like a nice pitch, as long as he can keep it low in the zone.