Jacob Wilson took one for the team in the first inning on Wednesday night. He gained a measure of revenge in the second and again eight innings later.
The Cardinals prospect slugged a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to cap the best night of his fledgling professional career as Class A Peoria rallied for a 13-10 victory over Lake County.
Wilson's night got off to a painful start as he was hit by a pitch in the first. He came around to score three batters later on Geoffrey Klein's grand slam, then launched a two-run homer in the second to extend the Chiefs' lead to 6-2.
"First pitch fastball inside and I'm on the inside of the plate," Wilson said of the plunking. "I try not to let that stuff bother me. They tried to come in again, which is kind of where I like balls, so I was able to get my pitches from that. It was kind of a joke after my first home run."
The cushion was gone by the third and the Captains grabbed a 10-8 lead in the seventh. Peoria got back within a run in the eighth and tied it in the ninth on Steven Ramos' sacrifice fly before Wilson provided the decisive blow.
"Words don't really explain," said Wilson, a 10th-round pick in last year's Draft. "When I made contact, I heard everyone go crazy. It was an adrenaline rush, it left a really good feeling inside me. I knew as soon as I hit it was going to get out. It was like a sigh of relief. It's awesome to be able to experience something like that."
Over his last six games, the 2012 Conference USA Player of the Year has five homers and 11 RBIs. He credits work with Cardinals Minor League hitting coordinator Derrick May for helping get him on track.
"I started the season off slow," Wilson said. "Our hitting coordinator tweaked my swing and I got a few hits with that. That's kind of been my biggest thing now, making sure I keep the same consistent swing.
"We had a couple of little small things, nothing major, just a few things I needed to do for myself, and I feel like it's helped me stay more consistent. The biggest thing was my front hip, making sure it was closed. So I closed my front hip so I could stay in the zone longer on pitches away."
Wilson is riding a 10-game hitting streak that's raised his average from .178 on April 19 to .280. He leads the Midwest League with seven homers and ranks second with 23 RBIs, three behind Cedar Rapids' Adam Walker.
Charlie Tilson, the Cardinals' No. 15 prospect, hit his first Minor League homer for the Chiefs. He also was hit by a pitch just ahead of Wilson's game-winning blast.
"Charlie Tilson hit his first career home run tonight and he [got on base] in front of me with two outs, and I thought that was huge," Wilson said. "That's good for him to be able to [get on] in situations like that. None of that would have happened without the quality at-bats."
Cardinals No. 8 prospect Carson Kelly reached base three times and scored twice for Peoria, which ended a three-game losing streak.
Eric Haase was 3-for-5 with a solo homer and three runs scored for the Captains.