Jason Martinson provided the steak to A.J.Cole's sizzle for the Nationals on Thursday.
The Nationals' No. 20 prospect went yard three times, driving in four runs, as Class A Advanced Potomac blanked Frederick, 8-0. His offense went a long way to back No. 4 prospect A.J. Cole's start.
After fanning in the first inning, Martinson slugged a two-run homer in the third, his first blast since June 3. He hit a solo shot in the fifth and ended his night with another solo blast in the ninth for the first three-homer game of his career.
"I think I did it once in high school. I was extremely excited. It felt great to get that third one," the Texas native said. "Basically, I was just trying to get something out of the over plate to do some damage with. He happened to leave a slider out over the plate and I was able to get a hold of it. Honestly at the beginning of the at-bat, I was [thinking of a third homer], but I after got down 0-2, I was trying to get a decent pitch to put in play.
Martinson, who finished 3-for-5, had been in the middle of a rough stretch, batting .132 with one homer and seven RBIs in 12 games this month. The 24-year-old shortstop spent some time adjusting his approach at the plate en route to the first three-homer game in the Carolina League in 2013.
"I tried to spread out, cut down as much movement as I can to see the ball as long as possible," he said. "I've been rushing a little bit, getting a little too much in front of balls instead of letting them travel. I got a wider base, cut down a little bit on the leg kick is all."
Overall, Martinson is batting .249 and is tied for third in the Carolina League with 11 homers and 45 RBIs.
Cole fanned 10 and gave up four hits over seven innings to improve to 4-2 for Potomac.
"It was great," Martinson said of Cole's start. "Our starters have been phenomenal for us all year long, they've kept us in games regardless of whether we've been hitting or not."
With the win, the Nationals clinched the circuit's first-half Northern Division title by virtue of owning the tiebreaker over Lynchburg Hillcats.
Cole Leonidas homered and plated two runs for Potomac.