Rowan Wick is taking a hammer to the State College Spikes record book.
Hours after being named Minor League Player of the Month by the St. Louis Cardinals organization, the Spikes’ right fielder made history with his 11th home run, breaking the franchise’s single-season record in just the 19th game of the year.
“I knew it was gone right off the bat,” Wick said by phone after the game. “I kind of just stood there for a second and looked at it before I ran. It felt good.”
Wick crushed a three-run homer while Alex De Leon added a two-run blast as State College put away the Batavia Muckdogs 9-3 Wednesday night at Dwyer Stadium, leaving the two teams tied for first place in the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney Division.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Centre Daily Times
Nick Thompson singled, doubled and scored three times while Collin Radack singled and doubled and Brian O’Keefe doubled for State College (12-7).
Jeff Rauh (1-0) earned his first win, tossing 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out two. Fernando Baez, in his second start of the season, struck out five over 4 1/3 innings, walking three and giving up two hits and two runs — one earned. Jacob Booden and Nick Lomascolo finished the game as the pitchers combined to give up six hits.
Wick, who finished 2 for 5 with four RBIs, was honored by the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon — the first Spike to pick up that honor from the franchise.
“It makes me feel good,” Wick said. “Being Minor League Player of the Month, with only playing half the games everyone else played, it’s a big accomplishment for me.”
His homer total surpassed David Washington’s tally of 10 last season.
The 2012 ninth-round draft pick by the Cardinals is now batting .403 with 25 RBIs. Entering Wednesday, Wick led the league in homers, was tied for the lead in RBIs and was second in batting average.
By his standards for this season, he says he has not been hitting well the last few games.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit the last few games with seeing the ball, change-ups, swinging at balls in the dirt,” Wick said. “It’s kind of frustrating how you can hit a change-up out of the park 400 feet, and look stupid on the same pitch. I’m just lucky I got that one up in the zone and was able to hit it.”
He delivered his big shot in the eighth inning, turning a pitch from reliever Connor Overton into a line drive over the wall in right field following walks to Thompson and De Leon.
“It was a change-up, up and middle,” Wick said, later adding one of his teammates in the bullpen went around the fence to retrieve the ball.
The Muckdogs’ Ben Holmes (0-1), making his first pro start after being added to the roster earlier in the day, pitched just two innings while striking out three and allowing five hits and two runs for the loss. The Miami Marlins’ ninth-round pick out of Oregon State led the nation with a 0.78 ERA this spring.
State College struck for single runs in each of the first two innings. Darren Seferina singled and later scored on a Wick infield single in the first, and O’Keefe doubled and scored on a Jhohan Acevedo ground out in the second.
In the fifth, Danny Diekroeger singled, Thompson doubled him home and De Leon delivered his fifth homer of the season. Four of De Leon’s five homers have been hit at Dwyer Stadium.
The Muckdogs answered in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Cranmer started the frame with a solo homer, and Aaron Blanton bounced into a fielder’s choice for the other score. Cranmer finished 2 for 4 with a double.
Following Wick’s wallop in the eighth, State College added one more score in the ninth when Thompson walked, moved to second on a balk and scored on a Radack double.
A Mason Davis home run to lead off the ninth closed the scoring for Batavia.
The teams finish their three-game series at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, with Spikes right-hander Daniel Poncedeleon (1-0) facing Muckdogs’ righty Jorgan Cavanerio (1-0).
The Spikes will then return home for a series against Jamestown, with a 1 p.m. start Friday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.