AUBURN | After allowing three runs in the top of the second inning, the Auburn Doubledays pitching staff threw up zero after zero en route to a 5-3 win over the State College Spikes Thursday at Falcon Park.
The Doubledays tied the game in the fourth, plated the go-ahead run in the sixth and added an insurance run an inning later in their first game of the season against the Spikes.
While the offense used small ball to take the lead, the Auburn relievers kept State College off the board.
Travis Henke came on in the seventh, throwing two innings of relief. He allowed just two hits while walking and striking out one before Derek Self struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth for his 10th save of the season.
"That's what I'm talking about, we took the lead in the sixth, he puts up a zero in the seventh," Doubledays manager Gary Cathcart said. "We gave him a run in the seventh and he puts up a zero in the eighth. Now we've got breathing room."
Although Doubledays starter Ivan Pineyro had trouble keeping his pitches down, he went six innings for his second win of the season. He allowed six hits and two walks for three runs and struck out five.
"He hung in there and gave us six innings," Cathcart said. "He got out of a jam in the sixth and was one hitter away from coming out of the game."
The Doubledays took an early two-run lead when Brandon Miller, activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, tripled to score Estarlin Martinez in the first. Khayyan Norfork bunted the next pitch for a single, scoring Miller.
Miller played three innings and went 2-for-2.
"I just didn't try to do too much," he said. "I took the first pitch to see what he had and his ball was running to the far side. He was a good pitcher, I just happened to get a good swing on one. It just felt natural."
Derek Trent tied the game with a two-run home run and the Spikes scored on a fielder's choice to go ahead 3-2 in the next half-inning.
"We held the lead for about five minutes and gave it right back to them in the top of the second," Cathcart said. "It's a thing we emphasize a lot with these young pitchers, it's important when the team puts up runs that you put up zeroes."
Narciso Mesa tied the game in the bottom of the fourth when he singled in Wes Schill, who singled and stole second.
Auburn got the go-ahead run in the sixth, when Mesa then grounded into a fielder's choice with two on and one out. With State College unable to pull out a double play, Carlos Lopez came in to score.
"We got kind of a gift run there," Cathcart said. "I'm sure they thought it would be a double play. That's the way the game goes."
An inning later, Martinez singled to bring in Pleffner from second, giving Auburn some breathing room.
Seven Doubledays had at least one hit, while Martinez and Schill each went 2-for-4 and Lopez went 3-for-4.
Pinckney Division-leading Auburn (30-20) will host State College again today. The teams will then play eight more times before the regular season concludes Sept. 5.
For Miller and the Doubledays, it doesn't matter that Thursday night was the first time they had seen the Spikes this season.
"We take the same approach to every team," Miller said. "We're going to hit the ball hard and have good approaches at the plate."