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Spikes eliminated from NYPL postseason play

by on September 07, 2017 10:47 AM

On the same night the State College Spikes turned the first triple-play in franchise history, their quest to repeat as New York Penn League champions came to a halt. Their loss, coupled with wins by Hudson Valley and Mahoning Valley on Sept. 4, eliminated the Spikes from the postseason.

Though each baseball season — especially those at the lower level of the minor leagues — takes on its own shape, the talent level that the Spikes came out of the gates with could have swayed some to think that the playoffs might be a foregone conclusion.

However, the St. Louis Cardinals were more aggressive in promoting talent from State College than in years past. Pitcher Sam Tewes, third baseman Evan Mendoza, infielder Josh Lopez and more shone brightly in Happy Valley, but all too briefly.

Contrast that practice to last year, which saw that team’s talented core — infielder Tommy Edman, outfielder Vince Jackson, catcher Jeremy Martinez and first baseman Ryan McCarvel — stay together throughout the entire year. That kind of continuity is rare in the New York Penn League, and the Spikes flexed that muscle in the 2016 season’s latter stages.

That is not to say that there were not bright spots during the 2017 season. The Spikes won more individual awards this year than in any previous season. The club persevered throughout the change to be right there in the thick of the playoff hunt in the season’s final weekend, a feat that first-year Spikes manager Joe Kruzel should be proud of.

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If you’ve been to any Spikes game over the past several seasons, chances are you know who Josiah Viera is.
Viera, a young man diagnosed with Hutchinson/Gilford progeria, has become a fixture at Spikes games. He’s even been to spring training with the Cardinals as an honored guest.

He’s shook hands, bumped fists and slapped high fives with countless Cardinals players, coaches and fans. He’s inspired hundreds, if not thousands, with his simple mantra: “Never give up.”

For the past three years, the Spikes have given out the Josiah Viera Perseverance Award, with Viera himself making the selection. This year’s honoree is Spikes pitcher Levi MaVorhis. He joins catcher Jose Godoy (2015) and infielder Danny Hudzina (2016) as winners of the award.

MaVorhis adopted a long relief role after starting the year as a starter. The non-drafted free agent has recorded a 2.16 ERA in 16 appearances. He has recorded a stout 38 strikeouts against just 11 walks in 41.2 innings.

The Spikes' team MVP and Pitcher of the Year awards will be announced prior to the regular season finale Thursday, Sept. 7, against the Williamsport Crosscutters at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. First pitch for the game is set for 7:05 p.m.

 

 

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