AUBURN — The Doubledays bullpen was perfect in their six innings of work.
However, a bloop single against their starter ended up as the difference.
Auburn lost the opener of a two-game series to State College, 2-0, Saturday at Falcon Park. The Doubledays were held to three hits and eight baserunners in a masterful effort from Spikes starting pitcher Franyel Casadilla.
Casadilla threw seven shutout innings and didn't allow a single runner to reach third base. The Doubledays' lone baserunner from the fifth inning on came when Jacob Rhinesmith worked a lead-off walk in the bottom of the ninth, but he fell victim to a double play the next at-bat.
The Doubledays were without manager Jerad Head, who will be away from the team through Tuesday's All-Star Game. In his stead was Washington Nationals Catching Coordinator Michael Barrett.
Barrett watched a near flawless outing from his bullpen, as Gilberto Chu, Aaron Barrett and Chandler Day were charged with only one hit in their combined six innings.
"Those guys worked hard," said the manager Barrett. "They came out pumping strikes and gave our boys a chance to come back and win the ballgame."
State College's lone runs came in a bases-loaded situation in the third inning — already its second of the game at that point — as Cameron Knight dropped in a fly ball between Doubledays first baseman Jamori Blash and right fielder Jacob Rhinesmith down the first-base line off starter Tim Cate.
Knight's blooper allowed two runs to score, and Auburn was unable to match that against a dominant Casadilla.
"The guy did a good job of putting the ball in play in a tough situation," Barrett said. "He put it over our guys heads in the infield. It was a good two-strike approach by the hitter. We made a good pitch but he did a good job of fighting it off for a base hit."
It was a rare off night for the Doubledays' offense, which has the highest team batting average in the New York-Penn League at .263. This loss was only the third time all season that Auburn had been shut out.
"This is my seventh day with the ballclub in the last eight games, and they've played outstanding," Barrett said. "I think this is the first time I've seen them lose in seven games. They've been playing really well and have been giving their all. I have nothing but great things to say. We went up against a good pitcher today and they still gave it their best effort."
Barrett, a former major league catcher of 12 years, has taken particular notice of Doubledays backstop Israel Pineda. Pineda, the third-youngest player on the roster, was one of six Auburn players to be named a New York-Penn League all-star.
Against the Spikes, Pineda finished 1-for-4 and also displayed his defensive ability when throwing out Nick Dunn at second base in an attempted steal in the seventh inning.
"He's well beyond his years being an 18-year-old kid in this league," Barrett said. "He's stepped up and surprised a lot of people by having success this soon. He's a really good player and a joy to work with."
Auburn (30-23) goes for the series split Sunday at Falcon Park.