UNIVERSITY PARK — After hitting the first walk-off grand slam in team history and setting single-season records in home runs and runs batted in, David Washington was rewarded Friday with the State College Player of the Year award.
Nick Petree, who won Pitcher of the Year, and Mitch Harris, who won the team’s leadership award, joined the Spikes first baseman in a pregame ceremony before State College faced Jamestown in the final regular-season game at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
“It’s cool because we’re having a great year and the team is doing really well so that’s just a cherry on top,” Washington said of winning the award.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Washington leads the New York-Penn League with 49 RBIs, and his 10 home runs lead the team and are good for third-best in the league.
Despite impressive power numbers, the 15th-round draft pick in 2009 is most pleased with his maturity at the plate.
“I feel like the best thing I’ve been doing is being patient,” said Washington, whose 37 walks lead the league. “Sometimes I get a little out of my approach, but for the most part (I am) just taking what pitchers give me.
“It’s tough, but it’s something I told myself before the season that I wanted to work on … and I trust the guys behind me to make it happen if teams do pitch around me.”
Washington can also trust his pitching staff — especially Petree — to keep the game close.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-hander is a precision pitcher that beats batters with guile, not gusto. The ninth-round pick in June leads all Spikes starters with a 1.62 ERA. As a team, State College entered Friday second in the NY-PL in ERA at 2.70, behind only Brooklyn’s 2.62.
On the season, Petree is holding opposing hitters to a .189 average with runners in scoring position and .190 with runners in position and two outs.
Thursday night’s imprecise, four-earned-run performance was the first time Petree allowed more than one run in an appearance this season.
“I think the difference between (Thursday) and the rest of the year was making my pitch versus giving them theirs,” Petree said. “I just try to keep my team in the game and turn it over to the bullpen, hopefully with the lead, and our bullpen is great at finishing it off.”
Harris, who has only allowed three earned runs in more than 30 innings pitched, is a big part of that bullpen. After completing nearly five years of active-duty service in the U.S. Navy, the 13th-round pick in 2008 leads the relief staff with a 0.89 ERA.
“I couldn’t have written it any better,” said Harris of his performance this season. “I told myself I wanted to get through this season. Not just survive, but do as well as I could. I didn’t know I’d do this well.”
At 27, Harris is by far the Spikes oldest player and has taken to the leadership role asked of him by manager Oliver Marmol — who also is 27.
On the field, Harris said his body has struggled at times after five years away from the game. However, he still learned to pitch effectively without his best stuff or velocity.
After experiencing the rigors of professional baseball, Harris can’t wait to see what next season will bring.
“I’m looking forward to having a full offseason,” Harris said, “come back into spring training and see what happens after a full year of playing.”