When Chris Owings relaxes, he generates thrilling results.
The fourth-ranked D-backs prospect homered three times, singled and drove in five runs in the Triple-A Reno Aces' 7-4 win over the Fresno Grizzlies on Tuesday.
Owings became the second Aces player to hit three home runs in a single game -- Cole Gillespie did it a little more than a year ago -- and the first visiting player to homer three times at Fresno's Chukchansi Park since 2004. It is the 10th three-homer game in the Minors this season, and Jamie Romak was the only other player to do so in the Pacific Coast League in 2013.
In Owings' estimation, staying cool was the key.
"It's been my whole thing to not try to do too much," he said. "I'm just trying to stay relaxed up there."
The 21-year-old shortstop prospect was selected out of high school in South Carolina in the first round of the 2009 Draft, and prior to beginning this year in Triple-A, he had seen only 69 games as high as the Double-A level. But now his four-hit game makes him the active leader in the PCL with a .355 batting average.
"I try not to look at that stuff. I just try to play good baseball," he said. "I've just been focused on doing my routine every day, getting in my work in the cage and in batting practice, and not trying to do too much. That's been working for me."
Owings' batting practice session Tuesday hadn't foreshadowed his game results.
"I broke a bat in BP today, which I never do," he said. "But you know how these things go. It just kind of went from there, but BP was really nothing special."
All three of the long balls came off Grizzlies starter Mitch Lively, who's no stranger to Owings.
"I faced him in [Class A Advanced], when he was with San Jose in 2011, and I faced him a couple times this year, so I guess I know a little bit about him.
"I got down 0-2 in that first at-bat, and I was just trying to battle back," Owings said. "I ended up getting a pitch out over the plate and I put a good swing on it, and it got out of there."
Owings' second homer of the evening came on the first pitch he saw in the third. Lively had retired six in a row before walking Reno table-setter Tony Campana to start that frame.
"He was throwing the ball well after the first one I hit," said Owings, "but then it was the same thing in my second at-bat. I got a pitch up and over the plate."
His first two roundtrippers left the park via center field, but he changed things up by smacking the third one out in left. It came on a 1-0 pitch in the fifth.
"My third at-bat, I went up there with the same approach again," Owings said. "Obviously, I was seeing the ball pretty good, and I got a cut slider over the middle third of the plate."
He maintained an even keel to come through with a line-drive single against Giants farmhand Fabio Castillo in the seventh too.
"It was kind of the same thing," he explained. "It was 2-0, so I had a good count. I ended up getting a fastball on the middle third of the plate and put a good swing on it."
Second-ranked San Francisco prospect and Fresno outfielder Gary Brown cut the ball off in right-center field and threw Owings out at second, but it hardly put a damper on his mood.
"It was a pretty exciting night. It's the first time in my career I've hit three home runs in a game," even going back to Little League, Owings said.
"Tomorrow I come out here and have a short memory," he added. "I just have to try to have a good game and try to win the series for us -- that's the biggest thing."
Brown had two hits and a walk, and Chris Dominguez and Brett Pill each homered in a second consecutive game for Fresno.