Spikes’ Wick burns ’Cutters in win

STATE COLLEGE – With a lot of lightning swirling around Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the State College Spikes took the cue from Mother Nature as they made a little thunder of their own, doubling up on the Williamsport Crosscutters for a 6-3 win Monday night before 2,093 fans.

With the win, the Spikes are not only off to a 3-1 start, but they also hold the 3-1 lead in the Sawbuck Series.

“The guys played a nice game today,” Spikes manager Oliver Marmol said. “They swung the bats well, hit two more home runs and scored some runs. We made some good defensive plays and although it got a little crazy at the end, we were able to get the win.”

The Cutters jumped on top right out of the chute and they did with a little help from the Spikes.

Cord Sandberg led off the game with a sharp single to center, advanced to third on a pickoff throwing error by State College pitcher Dailyn Martinez and scored on a passed ball charged to Spikes catcher Luis Cruz.

Trailing 1-0, the Spikes jumped on top 2-1 in the second inning and they used the long ball to take care of business.

Rowan Wick picked on the first offering from Feliberto Sanchez for a high and long solo home run to right, and two batters later, Ronnierd Garcia picked on a 1-2 offering from Sanchez for a solo barrel shot to left.

Leading 2-1, Wick made it 3-1 when he pounded his second home run of the game and his fourth of the season, a titanic shot off the batter’s eye in straightaway center field.

“I am seeing the ball well right now,” Wick said. “I am trying to stay with pitches that are hittable rather then changeups down in the dirt. I am not saying that I swing at those a lot, but I have been getting a lot of fastballs and I have hit some of them hard. I struggled a lot in the first month of extended spring training, but now I am staying off of those pitches down and swinging at those up in the zone and it seems to be working out for me.”

As for his first home run, Wick said that he had an approach going in and it worked for him.

“I was looking away and he threw me a fastball down the middle and I was able to put a good swing on it,” Wick said. “When I had a 3-1 count in the second at-bat, I wasn’t really expecting a breaking ball, but he threw me another fastball and again I was able to hit it.”

As for his maturing, Marmol feels that Wick is learning to stay off the pitches down in the dirt and swinging on more good pitches.

“We looked at the numbers yesterday and we saw they were pitching him a lot down in the zone,” Marmol said. “He’ll chase once in a while, but what he needs to do is stay hard through the middle. I am hoping that he stays with that. He is a big strong guy and when he hits the ball, it goes.”

The Cutters shaved the State College lead to 3-2 with singles by Herlis Rodriguez and Malquin Canelo, a sacrifice bunt by Sandberg and an RBI sacrifice fly to center by Drew Stankiewicz.

Up 3-2, the Spikes created a little space for themselves in the seventh when they scored three runs.

With one out, Jhohan Acevedo doubled down the rightfield line, advanced to third on a Cutter error and scored on an RBI fielder’s choice.

Jake Stone singled and Nick Thompson followed with an RBI single to center, plating Leobaldo Pina with the fifth State College run. Stone pushed the Spikes lead to 6-2 when Cutter reliever Preston Packrall uncorked a wild pitch.

The Cutters didn’t go quietly in the top of the ninth when they scored a run and had the tying run on first and the go-ahead run at the plate with one out.

However, that is when Jeff Rauh ran into trouble and Josh Lucas came on to slam the door shut on the Cutters and preserve the win. For Lucas, the save was his second of the young campaign.

The Spikes will continue their homestand tonight with the first of three games with the Batavia Muckdogs.

State College will send righthander Luis Perdomo to the hill, while Batavia will counter with righty Yeims Mendoza.