Spikes' McCarvel caps cycle with homer

Cardinals prospect delivers first four-hit game, career-high five RBIs

Ryan McCarvel boosted his batting average 70 points on his historic night. (Steve Manuel/State College Spikes)

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com | June 30, 2016 11:20 PM

Ryan McCarvel was getting ready for his final trip to the plate when an inanimate object pointed out how good of a night it had already been -- and how much better it could get.

"I wasn't aware that I was a home run shy until I saw the scoreboard that at-bat," he said. "Definitely the mind starts to race and the heart starts to race, but I tried to remember my keys at the plate."

The Cardinals backstop-turned-first baseman did just that and promptly belted a solo homer in his fifth at-bat to complete the feat on Thursday as Class A Short Season State College rolled by visiting Brooklyn, 10-4. In the process, McCarvel racked up a career-high five RBIs.

"I've never had anything even close to a cycle in my career," said McCarvel, who hadn't registered a four-hit night as a professional prior to the win. "It was special, definitely very special to me."

Video: McCarvel belts a two-run shot to widen the deficit

In his 12th game with the Spikes, McCarvel approached his third matchup with Brooklyn utilizing a more complete mind-set at the plate.

"I talked to our [manager] Johnny Rodriguez, and he really bounced some ideas off me about starting to focus in on what pitches I think I'm going to get and what count," he said. "I really started to lock in on that early in the game and picked some pitches, and they just happened to be the right pitches I was going to get."

The 2015 19th-round pick certainly looked focused from the start at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. McCarvel bounced an RBI single up the middle in the first inning and raced for his first triple of the season on a liner to center field in the fifth to drive in his second run.

"I'd talked to Johnny before the at-bat," he said. "My first at-bat, I saw a fastball outside that I took for a strike, and I had a pretty good idea that [Brooklyn starter Joel Huertas] was going to go back to that and try to start me out 0-1. I was hoping for that pitch and got it and made sure I jumped all over it. I honestly thought it was going to be caught. I didn't think it was going to be that close to the wall. It just happened to take a funny bounce off the wall, and I hustled into scoring position for our team."

After flying out to left to end the third, the Howard College product roped a two-run double to center in the sixth, setting himself up for a chance at history.

"The last thing I want to do is fall out of a groove right there and roll over a ball," he said of facing Brooklyn's Nabil Crismatt in the eighth. "I tried to keep my hands inside of it and see a good pitch to hit. Luckily, I got one."

McCarvel clobbered a two-out shot to left, his second homer of the season. That sealed State College's first cycle since Jimmy Bosco accomplished the feat on June 26, 2013 at Mahoning Valley.

"It was an honor," McCarvel said. "My teammates let me feel their excitement, and it was something I will never forget. It was a breathtaking moment for me."

The night lifted his slash line to .286/.400/.571 with 10 RBIs since returning to short-season ball. McCarvel opened the year with five games at Class A Peoria, but didn't stick in the Midwest League.

"I started out in Peoria first and was, I guess, trying more than I needed to accomplish so much in so little time," he said. "I went back to Florida, learned how to play some first base as a backup position and just went into State College and the [New York-]Penn League trying not to do as much and staying within myself. I know the coaches have faith in what I can do, so I just tried not to put pressure on myself so far. It's had its ups and downs, but it's going in the right direction."

Now with hits in three straight games, McCarvel said he's eager to keep it rolling.

"I'm just sticking with my keys, just trying to hit the ball hard and lock in from the first at-bat to the last at-bat," he said. "It's definitely a good reminder for confidence, just a great confidence boost."

No. 20 Cardinals prospect Ronnie Williams also made history, fanning 10 while allowing three runs on six hits and a walk over eight innings. His strikeout total matched a team record first set by Will Anderson on June 29, 2014 against Williamsport. It was matched by Fernando Baez in a New York-Penn League semifinal Series game against Hudson Valley on Sept. 5, 2014, and then Juan Perez on July 18, 2015 against Batavia.

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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