Hopefully the patrons hanging out in the Pepsi Picnic Pavilion were paying attention.
Because in back-to-back swings, the State College Spikes sent a couple baseballs their way.
Vince Jackson, immediately followed by Ryan McCarvel, smoked dueling home runs over the left-field wall in the bottom of the first inning, jolting life into the crowd at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park and guiding State College to a 4-3 win over the Staten Island Yankees on Friday.
The Spikes (37-17) are 15-3 this year in openers to three-game series. Meanwhile, the Yankees (30-23) are 9-9 in such contests.
“Slow heartbeats,” Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez said of his team. “We play very well against teams with good records. ... Same slow heartbeat, but just a little more swagger to them.”
It always helps to kick off a series like the Spikes did early Friday night.
In the bottom half of the first frame, shortstop Tommy Edman drew a leadoff walk, and two batters later Jackson laced a two-run homer just inside the left-field foul pole.
It was Jackson’s second homer of the season, and first-ever opposite-field dinger.
“They’ve always been either center field or pull,” said the left-handed Jackson, who also had an RBI single in the third inning. “So I didn’t even know the feeling. I knew I hit it well, but when I saw it stay fair I was happy.”
McCarvel wasted no time adding to that momentum, connecting with the first pitch he saw.
It was a towering shot, and for a minute from the press box it looked like it might drift foul.
But McCarvel’s blast stayed true for his team-leading seventh dinger of the summer.
DeLorenzo does work
He only tossed four innings, but State College starter Jordan DeLorenzo was the winning pitcher. DeLorenzo (2-0) made his 11th appearance and first start of the season, striking out five and allowing one run on four hits.
The 23-year-old southpaw opened with 1-2-3 innings in the first and second. Even though he surrendered a run in the third, DeLorenzo rebounded in the fourth, retiring his final batter and stranding two Yankee runners.
The bullpen took over after the fourth, and it was by no means a perfect night for State College’s relievers. Max Almonte allowed one earned run in two innings, and Connor Jones did the same.
Brady Bowen entered in the ninth inning and went 1-2-3, earning his seventh save in eight opportunities this season.
After incurring injuries during Thursday’s doubleheader, neither Anthony Ray nor Jeremy Martinez saw the field on Friday. Rodriguez offered updates on both.
Ray, who slammed into the wall making a diving catch during Thursday’s nightcap, underwent concussion protocol following the game. The manager said he expects Ray back after the All-Star break, which is Monday and Tuesday.
“His concussion symptoms are going down, but he’s still four or five days away,” Rodriguez said.
Meanwhile, Martinez left the doubleheader’s first game after a pitch bounced in the dirt and hit his wrist.
Rodriguez said after Thursday’s games that his catcher was fine and might return to the lineup Friday, but thought a designated hitter appearance on Saturday would be more fitting.
“He felt really good today, a lot of flexibility, but it’s just swollen a little bit,” Rodriguez said. “He’s going to take batting practice, trainer will check him, if he’s a go, then he’s DH.”
Spikes: After the series-opening win, State College continues its three-game set with Staten Island at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Spikes will send 19-year-old right-hander Jordan Hicks to the hill. Hicks is 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA in two outings with State College since joining the team at the start of August.
Yankees: Staten Island will feature 22-year-old right-hander Chad Martin on the bump. Martin, a native of Gettysburg, is 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in two starts with the Yankees.
Bobble-Hack: On Saturday, bobbleheads of former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg will be handed out to the first 1,000 fans through the gates, regardless of age.