Rowan Wick showed off his power in his State College debut Friday night.
The lefty blasted a pair of deep home runs — one that sailed over the left of the center field wall 405 feet away and one that cleared it to the right — to highlight the Spikes’ 10-3 season-opening win over Williamsport at Bowman Field.
“I definitely knew the first one was out at least,” Wick said. “But actually in practice the other day (Oliver) Marmol was talking about how I was pulled off the ball, and he said my next at bat, take a swing and hit the ball to the shortstop, stay through the ball.
“So I was just trying to stay with that approach and hit the ball to the middle of the field.”
Wick’s first home run, a two-run shot, capped a six-run fifth inning, and his second was a three-run homer that punctuated the victory in the ninth inning. He finished 3 for 4 with five RBIs to lead State College. Spikes starting pitcher Dewin Perez turned in a sharp performance, limiting the Crosscutters to one hit in five innings to earn the win.
“Dewin Perez did a nice job,” said Marmol, the Spikes manager. “He’s a young kid. He was excited before the game, a little nervous, and he went out there and was able to calm himself down and have a great outing.”
State College and Williamsport will play the second game of their series at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
Perez cruised through the first three innings, retiring Williamsport in order in the bottom of the first inning and needing just four pitches in a perfect second.
After allowing a leadoff walk to Herlis Rodriguez in the third, he struck out Williamsport’s Robinson Torres. Catcher Luis Cruz then gunned down Rodriguez on a steal attempt at second base before Perez finished the inning by striking out Malquin Canelo.
Perez faced his first sign of trouble in the fourth with one out and Crosscutters on first and second. The lefty then fired a curveball to Williamsport’s Rhys Hoskins, who grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“He established his fastball, he was able to kind of locate it and pitched off of that,” Marmol said. “He’s got some life to it and when you can locate it and go in and out with it, it makes all of his other pitches a lot better, so today was definitely a positive day for him.”
State College was also held scoreless through the first four innings.
“A lot of it day one is just the nerves,” Marmol said. “Once you got that first at bat under your belt, you start to calm down a little bit and see the ball a little better, and these guys were able to settle down, put together some good at bats, and then the long ball got us today, which is good.”
The Spikes provided all the support Perez would need in the six-run fifth inning.
After Ronnierd Garcia flew out to right field, Spikes second baseman Chris Rivera pulled a single down the third base line.
Rivera advanced to second base on an error on a pickoff attempt by Williamsport catcher Deivi Grullon, and he reached third on a balk by Crosscutters starter Alejandro Arteaga.
Rivera later scored on a single by Jhohan Acevedo to get the Spikes on the board. An error by Williamsport third baseman Jan Hernandez made it 2-0 State College before Nick Thompson ripped a two-run single to left.
Wick then smashed his first home run off Arteaga just left of dead-center field to highlight the Spikes’ six-run inning.
“I was actually late on his fastball,” Wick said. “I fouled two of those straight back, and I fouled a changeup between my legs and then I just got set earlier and got a fastball and put a good swing on it.”
Wick put another good swing on an offering from Williamsport reliever Manny Martinez in the ninth.
It was an impressive start for the Spikes right fielder.
“He’s been working really hard,” Marmol said. “So it’s good and exciting to see him able to come through and help the team out in the way he did today. I know he’s excited about it, and it just put him on track to have some success down the road here.”