Sunday, August 2, 2015

Lowell Spinners 5 at State College Spikes 4 (New York-Penn League) - August 1, 2015

For most sports fans, the town of State College, PA,  is known as the home of Penn State. No doubt, this is a university town even in the summer, but the only sport you are going to get is of the minor league baseball variety. The State College Spikes of the New York-Penn League play on campus at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, just across the street from Beaver Stadium, home of Nittany Lions football.

There are parking lots right near the stadium at $3 but if you drive just north of University, there is a lot there that is free on the weekends and about a five-minute walk to the stadium.  The seating bowl is built into the hillside, so there isn't much of the structure to view from street level. The gates are about all that you can see from here.

Inside you can appreciate the full seating bowl, with the suite level above. A typical minor league ballpark arrangement, though there is protective netting all the way down to the end of the dugout.

As such, your best seats are actually beyond the bases down the lines, where the netting doesn't block so much of the action, as you can see below.

There are also some outfield bleachers, at $6 the cheapest option, but with no ushers checking down the lines, the recommendation is to buy these and sit in the seats shown above.

There are nice views over the outfield fence, including Mount Nittany, which is blocked by the scoreboard in the photo below. For trivia buffs, the word Nittany comes from the Algonquian word Nit-A-Nee meaning "single mountain".

The concourse is wide with plenty of metallic picnic tables that offer views to the field thus allowing a family to enjoy their meal in a more comfortable setting than their seats. Good food options, including cheese steaks. I was happy to find lemon ices for $1, which in the end is all I spent on the evening as I received a free ticket too!

The stadium includes the typical "Made the Show" display, though it seems that they are overwriting previous entries with newer ones as you can see below. What really amazes me is how many of these guys never really stuck in the majors

One unique element here is the Nook Monster, who hides in a nook in the outfield fence, only appearing to do a little jig when the Spikes score a run.

I'm doing a review of this venue for Stadium Journey, so I am not giving too much detail in this post. Medlar Field is a nice place to watch a Spikes game, especially since State College and the campus is much less crowded during the New York-Penn League season, which is just under three months long.

The Game

The Lowell Spinners (Boston) were in town to take on the Spikes, who are St. Louis' affiliate.  Carson Cross, (14th round, 2015 out of UConn) started for State College. I was looking forward to seeing Andrew Benintendi, the 7th overall pick by Boston this year and winner of the Golden Spikes award as the college player in the nation, but he was not in the lineup, apparently hurt a couple of games before.

Dioscar Romero started for Lowell and was unsteady early on, walking 3 of the first 4 batters before Jhohan Acevedo (below) tripled to clear the bases. Acevedo tripled in the third and scored on a single by Cole Lankford (27th, 2014). Those two triples certainly had Acevedo in the running for my world-famous Player to Watch Award (PWA).

Romero was replaced by Logan Boyd (19th, 2015) after 3 long innings and Lowell responded with a run in the 4th when Josh Ockimey (5th, 2014) tripled home Victor Acosta to make it 4-1. That was the only blemish on Cross' line, as Tyler Bray (26th, 2014) took over for the 7th. Ockimey led off with a double and the Spinners added two walks and two singles around a fielders choice to tie the game, ruining a solid effort by Cross.

In the 8th, Ockimey led off needing a homer for the cycle, and he crushed one but it fell just short, landing at the base of the fence, allowing Ockimey to get his second triple of the game and steal the PWA with his 9 total bases. He scored on a  single by Mitchell Gonsolus (10th, 2015) and that proved to the winning run as Boyd (the winner) and Edwar Garcia (the save) pitched 6 scoreless innings in relief.

A great game even though the home team lost. It is not often you see 4 triples in a single evening.


Mike Matheny's son Tate (4th, 2015, below) plays for Lowell but he went 0-4 batting in front of Ockimey.


While I was sitting in a random seat, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I thought that I was being kicked out of the seat, but instead, a gentleman asked me if I was Sean from SportsRoadTrips. I replied yes and he told me that he was a follower on Twitter and also a sports traveler from Ottawa. Now I know what fame feels like. In all seriousness, Stephano and his wife Maria invited me over to where they were sitting and we spent the game going over our various road trip stories, always good fun. I usually attend games alone so it was a refreshing change to chat with some like-minded folks for a couple of hours.

Next Up

I'm in the middle of my weeklong trip that includes visits to Buffalo, Toronto, Hamilton, Morgantown, Hagerstown, and Aberdeen. Check back daily for updates!



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