St. Joseph’s pitcher Bryce Herman enjoyed watching his “brothers” on the State College Spikes play at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in past summers.
Herman’s family hosted outfielder Nick Thompson and pitcher Greg Tomchick during their time with the Spikes, and he looked up to the young professional players as role models. He’d pitch with Tomchick for hours and then apply his new-found knowledge to offseason workouts.
Herman never thought about playing at the Spikes’ stadium while he watched Thompson and Tomchick, but he’ll get that opportunity Saturday when St. Joseph’s takes on Penns Valley at Medlar Field. The Wolves and Rams are set to play after Penn State’s 2 p.m. game against Minnesota. The high school game will start at 6 p.m. at the earliest.
“Ever since we knew that it was going to be on the schedule, it’s been something that’s been on my calendar,” Herman said.
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It will be the second game between local high school teams at the stadium this spring. Bellefonte beat State College 7-6 in nine innings on April 8. Now, St. Joseph’s and Penns Valley will both play at Medlar Field for the first time.
St. Joseph’s coach Greg Herman said the team approached the Spikes about playing a game at Medlar Field two years ago. Conversations continued until it came together this season. When Penns Valley coach Jon Bowersox heard about the opportunity, he thought it would be a good experience for his players.
Bowersox added that it might be the only chance for his players to take the field at a minor league and college ballpark.
“I’d like to see it more often,” Bowersox said. “I just think it’s good for the kids to see what these minor league guys get to play on, these college kids get to play on all the time, where we’ve been to some places where the fields are just not in very good shape.”
With that in mind, Bowersox hopes to utilize all 12 players on his roster Saturday. He said the team doesn’t lose much when he turns to the bench as his players are all the “same caliber.”
“They’re all excited, and I’m going to do my best to get everybody the experience of getting on the field,” Bowersox said. “I want to try to get everybody on the field, so they get to experience an infield that’s pretty much perfect, and just to play in that type of atmosphere.”
Bryce Herman can still remember Thompson and Tomchick starting their professional careers in that ballpark.
Thompson played for the Spikes in 2014, helping the team capture the New York-Penn League championship that summer. Tomchick spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons in State College. The Hermans became friends with both players and even attended Thompson’s wedding.
Bryce Herman learned about pitching from Tomchick, discussing everything from preparation before and after starts, pitch grips and injury prevention. That led to adding yoga to his offseason workouts.
“It was actually one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done,” Bryce said. “I thought it would just be mostly stretching, but it’s a lot of core activation and hip and shoulder opening — and it’s just as tough as any weightlifting or power training you can honestly do.”
After watching the former Spikes play at Medlar Field, Greg Herman will see his St. Joseph’s players on the same field Saturday.
“It’s awesome,” Greg Herman said. “They’re looking forward to it.”
Penns Valley vs. St. Joseph’s baseball
When: Saturday after the 2 p.m. Penn State-Minnesota game; the high school game will start at 6 p.m. at the earliest
Where: Medlar Field at Lubrano Park
Admission: Free with purchase of ticket to Penn State game; $3 for general admission ticket