For the second year in a row, the New York-Penn League championship series came down to a decisive third game between Tri-City and State College. In 2013, Tri-City won and celebrated the title on State College's field. Tuesday, State College returned the favor.
The Spikes jumped out to an early lead, scoring six runs in the top of the first inning, and cruised to an 11-2 victory. With the victory, they won the best-of-three series and claimed their first New York-Penn League championship.
State College, the Cardinals' short-season Class A affiliate, sent 11 batters to the plate in the first inning, knocking Tri-City starter Austin Chrismon out of the game after facing just six hitters. In all, the Spikes scored six runs on five hits, two walks and two errors.
Third baseman Danny Diekroeger, the Cardinals' 10th round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, went 3-for-5 with a triple, a walk and three runs to lead the Spikes' offense. Right fielder Nick Thompson hit a two-run homer in the first inning and catcher Luis Cruz drove in four runs.
Right-hander Daniel Poncedeleon, the Cardinals' ninth-round pick in June, threw six scoreless innings to earn the victory. He struck out five batters, walked one and held Tri-City to three hits. Josh Lucas, Nick Lomascolo and Kyle Grana each threw an inning to finish off the victory, with Grana striking out the side in the ninth to punctuate the championship.
During the regular season, State College won the Pinckney Division and went 48-28, tying Tri-City for the best record in the league. It went on to the playoffs, defeating Hudson Valley in three games in the best-of-three semifinals to set up a rematch of last year's championship series against Tri-City.
The Spikes are owned by former Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg, who was instrumental in bringing the team to State College. He was on hand Tuesday to see the franchise's first championship.
Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.