Tyler Lancaster finally saw one he liked.
After watching three straight balls go by, the Spikes catcher swung — and changed the complexion of Thursday's night game.
Lancaster belted a third-inning grand slam, carrying State College to a 7-6 win over the Tri-City ValleyCats at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium. Lancaster's drive over the right-center wall gave the Spikes (13-10) a series win over Tri-City (8-14) — their fourth series win of the season.
The catcher’s first home-run of the season and the fourth of his minor league career was a decisive blast. But it wasn't State College's first runs.
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Imeldo Diaz scored two on a second-inning single, and Bryce Denton plated one on a single of his own early in the third. Then, Lancaster stepped to the plate — driving home Denton, Dennis Ortega and Brandon Benson on a 3-1 pitch right down the middle.
It was the final batter Tri-City starter Carlos Hiraldo faced. Hiraldo surrendered seven runs on five hits in less than three innings.
State College starter Daniel Castano entered Thursday night with a flawless record and 1.24 ERA — and despite surrendering some runs against the ValleyCats, he still put together a fine showing.
Castano, a 22-year-old southpaw, improved his record to 5-0 after striking out six over 5 2/3 innings of work. Although the Baylor product gave up three runs (two earned) and seven hits, his ERA sits at 1.56.
Castano leads the New York-Penn League in wins.
All but one player — outfielder Ricardo Bautista — in State College's lineup got a hit on Thursday.
In addition to belting the game-changing homer, Lancaster doubled, along with teammate Zach Kirtley. Ortega, Denton, Benson, Diaz, Caleb Lopes and Evan Mendoza all singled.
State College at Brooklyn, 6:40 p.m. Friday: The Spikes continue their long road trip with a three-game stop in Brooklyn. State College, after winning its series at Tri-City, looks to take another set. A win against the Cyclones on Wednesday would certainly help that cause, and the Spikes turn to Jonathon Mulford to get the job done. Mulford, a 22-year-old right-hander, is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA this season.