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Souza, Bloxom lead Harrisburg rout
Nationals prospects combine for two homers, eight RBIs
07/19/2013 12:36 AM ET
Steven Souza missed hitting for the cycle by a single Thursday night.
Steven Souza missed hitting for the cycle by a single Thursday night. (Will Bentzel/MiLB.com)

With Harrisburg's Steven Souza and Justin Bloxom swinging the bat the way they did Thursday night, Akron starter Paolo Espino had nowhere to throw the ball.

Souza and Bloxom combined for six hits -- including two homers -- and eight RBIs in the Double-A Senators' 12-3 rout of the Akron Aeros at Metro Bank Park.

"I saw a few more fastballs today than I usually do. But when you have good hitters around you, like [Carlos] Rivero and [Brian] Goodwin in front of me and [Jimmy] Van Ostrand behind me, who do you pitch to?" Bloxom asked.

The answer was Souza. But he doubled twice, tripled and hit his team-leading 13th home run before striking out in his final at-bat.

"It crossed my mind that I needed a single [for the cycle] for sure [my last at-bat] and I got a couple pitches," Souza said. "I thought I was going to get walked, but I kind of brain-farted on the last one. I should have just swung no matter what, but [Jose Flores] ended up getting the strikeout."

Harrisburg, which has won 10 of 14 games, tied a season high with 17 hits.

"The last week or so we've really exploded offensively, and it takes a lot of pressure off everyone when everyone's clicking. No one has to do too much because the guy behind you is feeling good like the next guy," Souza said.

Bloxom, who hit cleanup -- two spots after Souza -- matched his professional best with five RBIs. He also plated five April 20 against Altoona. The first baseman entered the game hitting .219 with the bases empty, but .302 with runners in scoring position.

"Any time there are runners on base, you just try to stay short and put the ball into play. The ultimate goal is to get a win and you can't do that without scoring runs," he said.

The 25-year-old Arizona native has reached base eight times in his last three games.

"[Bloxom] has been swinging the bat really good lately. He's been really patient at the plate, calm and fun to watch," Souza said. "It's fun to hit in front of him knowing if I get on base he has a good shot to drive me in."

Bloxom, who said "you have to adapt or die," said small changes at the plate have made a big difference.

"I've been getting in good position to hit and being on time. I want to be on time and not try to be too big. It's one of the biggest keys of hitting -- it seems so childish, so Little League to get your foot down and be on time, but the same stuff applies up here," he said.

Souza, who played just 17 games over the first two months of the season because of right shoulder tendinitis, is healthy and carrying a five-game hitting streak.

"My shoulder was barking a little bit, nothing too serious, but it was so cold early [in the season] that I think we were cautious and made sure that everything was OK," Souza said. "It's so much better, I don't even feel anything."

Top Nationals prospect Goodwin added three hits and scored three times, Rivero added two doubles and a single while Van Ostrand homered for the fifth time in five games.

Washington's No. 5 prospect Nathan Karns (7-3) retired 16 straight after giving up a one-out single in the third. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits and struck out seven in eight innings to lower his ERA to 3.33. The 25-year-old has 92 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings.

 

Brandon Simes is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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