State College Spikes

Bader aids State College Spikes in first full series with team

Harrison Bader has had quite the month.

The 21-year-old outfielder just finished his first full series — and a victorious one, at that — with the State College Spikes after a 6-1 rubber match win over the West Virginia Black Bears on Friday.

Thirteen days earlier, he and his Florida Gators were eliminated from the College World Series, just shy of the finals, by Virginia.

Ten days before that, Bader was selected at No. 100 overall in the 2015 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, their third-round pick.

That’s a 24-day life change, right there.

“It’s been exciting for both myself and my family,” he said. “Obviously it was an interesting experience with the College World Series, and then knowing that as soon as it was done I would be starting my professional career.”

Bader was one of Florida’s top hitters, and cranked out 17 homers with 66 RBIs and 16 doubles last season.

About two weeks later, he had to figure out a way to keep his bat hot at the next level — and this time, it was a wooden one.

Spikes Manager Johnny Rodriguez said there was no drop-off period for Bader during that transition.

“Actually, he should be able to hit better with wood because you try to hit a lot on the sweet spot,” he said.

Bader sealed his first full series nicely in Friday’s win, going 2 for 4, both singles, and scoring from second when West Virginia catcher Deybi Garcia lost a wild pitch in the dirt.

Rodriguez said sprinting in from third was Bader’s call.

“He took off on his own,” the manager said. “... But you know what? That play is on his own. It’s in front of him, so I shouldn’t make that decision. I don’t have a problem with it.”

The sixth-inning run helped State College beat the Black Bears after a blowout 7-1 loss tied the series 1-1 Thursday night.

“It’s a difference,” said Rodriguez. “It’s a guy who can run. ... He’s a big difference. I saw him in the College World Series. I said, ‘That’s going to be a great addition.’”

In his four games with the Spikes, he’s had six hits and four runs, with two homers and three RBIs.

Though Bader was picked apart in his second game against the Black Bears, a 7-1 loss in which he went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, his coach said he immediately adjusted — and the proof was in the box score.

“We talked about it before the game,” said Rodriguez, who told Bader to sit on a fastball. “I go, ‘Learn from that. They’re pitching you a certain way, set them up.’ ... and he did.”

It wasn’t too surprising from a guy whose entire life, at the moment, is about adjusting.

Bader said he’s taking it all day by day.

“There’s always stuff to learn in baseball. It’s all about adjusting,” he said. “As my (former) assistant coach Brad Weitzel would say, ‘You can’t be a dinosaur in baseball.’ It’s all about adjusting and adapting to new situations.”

The next test of Bader’s new life will be his performance in a full road series. The Spikes are at Auburn from July 4-6.