Harrison Bader made an impressive professional baseball debut Tuesday night.
In his first day in a State College Spikes uniform, a day after signing his first contract, Bader cracked two home runs and accounted for all the Spikes’ scoring.
It wasn’t enough as State College lost 5-3 to the Staten Island Yankees at Richmond County Bank Ballpark.
The Yankees (7-5) picked up only six hits, paced by Jake Hernandez’s 3 for 4 day, but also took advantage of four Spike errors to take two of three games in the series, the only meetings of the season for the teams in the New York-Penn League.
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Also making his pro debut was Spikes starting pitcher Carson Cross. A 14th-round St. Louis Cardinals draft pick in June after spending the last four years at Connecticut, Cross struggled. He faced just eight batters, lasted one inning and three batters in the second without getting another out. He struck out two but walked three, gave up two hits and three runs, all earned.
Derek Callahan struck out four, walked one and gave up five hits and three runs in earning the win in six innings of work. Luis Cedeno worked the final three innings for the save.
Bader was a third-round pick of the Cardinals this year, and was delayed in signing with the club after helping Florida to the College World Series.
The 6-foot, 195-pound 21-year-old outfielder, who officially signed with the Cardinals on Monday, ripped his first homer, and first hit, with a solo shot to left field in the third inning.
He then delivered a two-run shot to left in the fifth, becoming the second player in Spikes history to record two homers in his first game with the team, joining the team’s home run record holder, Rowan Wick, from last season.
The Yankees grabbed the lead for good with a four-run second inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases and chased Cross. With Greg Tomchick on in relief, a grounder by Junior Valera back to Tomchick was thrown away to plate three runs, and after another walk, a Kyle Holder sacrifice fly brought in the fourth run.
Staten Island added an insurance run in the sixth, with Jeff Hendrix reaching second on another error. When Kender Villegas’ pickoff attempt sailed into the outfield, and center fielder Thomas Spitz’s return throw also got away, Hendrix scored.
The Spikes (4-7) return home for a three-game series against the West Virginia Black Bears, with 7:05 p.m. starts Wednesday through Friday. The Black Bears, formerly the Jamestown Jammers, are a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate. Left-handed pitcher Ian McKinney (0-2) is scheduled to start for State College.