It only took Rowan Wick four games to make State College Spikes’ history.
Wick crushed two home runs Monday night, his second two-homer performance in the Spikes’ first series of the season, to help the Spikes beat the Williamsport Crosscutters 6-3 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The State College right fielder also drilled two homers at Bowman Field in the season opener Friday.
Wick became the first Spikes’ player to hit two home runs in a game twice, accomplishing the feat in less than a week.
“I’m seeing the ball really well,” Wick said. “I’m trying to swing at pitches that are hittable rather than changeups in the dirt. I’m not going to say that I swing at those a lot, but I try to avoid those.”
Wick finished 2 for 2 with two walks to pace the Spikes offensively. He is hitting .462 with seven RBIs after the season-opening series, which saw the Spikes take three out of four.
State College (3-1) won the series finale Monday night behind a quality start from Dailyn Martinez and a strong finish by reliever Josh Lucas. Martinez allowed two runs on three hits in five innings, and Lucas inherited a bases-loaded jam in the ninth and struck out two to seal the victory.
Williamsport (1-3) jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first.
Cord Sandberg led off with a single and advanced to third base on a failed pickoff attempt by Martinez. He then scored when on a passed ball on a strikeout of Jan Hernandez, with catcher Luis Cruz taking the out at first rather than trying to get Sandberg at the plate.
Wick provided the equalizer in the second inning with his third homer of the season. The powerful lefty attacked the first pitch and sent a towering shot over the right-field wall.
Spikes manager Oliver Marmol has been impressed with Wick’s approach so far.
“He’s actually laying off a lot of pitches down in the zone, and he’s taking them with a little bit more calmness I would say,” Marmol said. “He’ll chase once in a while, but his approach is just to stay through the middle of the field and when he makes contact, he’s a big kid, the ball just goes.”
Ronnierd Garcia followed Wick’s homer with a solo shot of his own in the second. The Spikes third baseman deposited a pitch into the Picnic Pavilion area beyond the left-field wall to give State College a 2-1 lead.
Wick then struck again in the fourth, working a 3-1 count and hammering an 87-mile-per-hour fastball off the batters’ eye in dead-center field, 399 feet from home plate.
His fourth homer of the season gave the Spikes a 3-1 lead.
“With a 3-1 count, you’re looking for your pitch in your spot, and I got it,” Wick said. “I wasn’t expecting a changeup, but I knew there was a possibility of getting one and the fastball came and I hit it.”
Wick then drew a walk in the sixth before he was intentionally walked in the seventh.
The Spikes added three runs in the seventh to extend their lead to 6-2, but Williamsport threatened in the ninth.
The Crosscutters loaded the bases against State College reliever Jeff Rauh.
Herlis Rodriguez singled off Rauh’s glove to score a run and cut the Spikes’ lead to 6-3. With the bases still loaded with one out, State College turned to Lucas to close it out.
“We’ve been going through all these situations in spring training just to get us used to it,” Lucas said. “I don’t want to say it’s a normal thing, but I’m comfortable coming in at any point.”
Lucas struck out Malquin Canelo swinging and struck out Sandberg looking to end the threat and seal the win.
“Lucas is a guy that’s gone ahead and dropped his arm angle down,” Marmol said. “He’s throwing from down under now and that ball’s moving like crazy. The slider is overpowering, has a lot of movement. It’s going to be really tough for right-handers to go ahead and stay on it.”