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Rickles carries Snappers to victory
A's prospect homers, doubles, collects career-high five hits
07/28/2013 12:24 AM ET
Nick Rickles is 19-for-46 with 16 RBIs over his last 11 games.
Nick Rickles is 19-for-46 with 16 RBIs over his last 11 games. (Beloit Snappers)

Most hitters prefer to do their damage early in the count. Not Nick Rickles, who said his new approach of hitting like he's always in a two-strike count has made all the difference.

The Athletics catching prospect went 5-for-5 with a homer, double and two RBIs to lead a season-high 19-hit attack Saturday night as Class A Beloit beat Quad Cities, 8-6, at Pohlman Field.

"I'm a much better hitter with two strikes, when I just try to put the barrel to the ball and not try to do too much," Rickles explained. "I can still hit for a little power, but I'm more comfortable in the box [with two strikes]."

The 23-year-old backstop hit .177 in 135 at-bats during the first half of the Midwest League season. Since the All-Star break, he's hitting .363 over 91 at-bats. He credits work with batting coach Casey Myers for simplifying his approach and more playing time for the turnaround.

"Just getting consistent at-bats [has made the difference]," he said. "Me and Bruce Maxwell, before he got called up to Stockton, we would kind of platoon, so I was hitting once every two days. I've been playing pretty consistently, getting live at-bats every day, and I'm taking [my new] approach into the game. You want live at-bats to try it out."

The Fort Lauderdale native has hit safely in eight of his last nine games at a .410 clip (16-for-39) and recorded his first career five-hit game Saturday.

"I was just taking it pitch by pitch, I saw a lot fastballs on the first pitch," he said. "I'm always looking to get in hitting counts and I was in hitter's counts tonight. You try to lay off bad pitches and swing at good ones."

Rickles needed a triple to hit for the cycle when he came to the plate in his final two at-bats but laced singles in the sixth and eighth innings.

"I didn't know about it until after the game when I got in the stands with my mom," he said. "As a competitor, I'm just trying to put a good swing on it and get a hit. Obviously, a triple would help out the team, but I'm not trying to change my approach from what worked."

The 2011 14th-round Draft pick plans to maintain his two-strike approach, no matter the count heading forward.

"Sometimes you get your first two hits and try to do more. You get two hits and then try to hit a bomb, but you have to continue to do whatever you're successful with, continuing that mental approach," Rickles said.

Aaron Shipman contributed three singles and scored twice, while John Wooten collected went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs for the Snappers. A's No. 6 prospect Renato Nunez singled twice, drove in a run and scored once.

Kris Hall (4-1) got the win, despite allowing four runs on five hits in two innings in relief of starter Andres Avila. Tyler Vail worked around a hit over two scoreless frames for his fourth save.

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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