Blue Jays infield prospect Christian Lopes is quick to deflect personal praise.
His RBIs are the result of teammates reaching base and getting in scoring position. His improved mechanics at the plate can be attributed to the hard work and philosophies of his coaches in the batting cages. And wins are always a collective effort even on a career night.
Lopes went 3-for-4 with a three-run homer, a double and a personal-best five RBIs as the Class A Lansing Lugnuts routed the host South Bend Silver Hawks, 12-6, in Thursday's doubleheader nightcap.
"It was a huge team win on both ends," he said. "Hitting is very contagious. It's good to get four knocks, but everybody getting four knocks is exciting because it gives you confidence. Everybody is doing their part and handing the baton over to the next guy."
Toronto's No. 12 prospect pulled a three-run homer to left field in the first inning and he added an RBI double to right with one out in the second.
After striking out in the third frame and popping out in the fifth, Lopes capped his night with a run-scoring single in the sixth.
"[Kyle Schepel] threw me a fastball away for a 1-0 count and I was looking for another fastball and he threw it high. I was looking for it again and I matched up with it," Lopes said of his homer. "The thing is, we are taught to hit middle, middle-away, and you pull more pitches when you do that because your mechanics allow you to stay through the middle of the field.
"At 2-0, a fastball is what I'm sitting on. If you sit offspeed and they throw you a fastball, it's too late. You can slow down your swing if you're sitting on a fastball and they throw you something offspeed, but you can't really speed it up. That is part of what the coaching staff has been trying to instill, and now we're starting to buy into that."
Selected by the Blue Jays in the seventh round of the 2011 Draft, the California native raised his average to .261 in the win.
It was his 24th multi-hit outing of the season and the eighth time he has collected three hits in a game. He fell one short of his career high of four, which he has achieved twice, most recently in a 4-3 win over Great Lakes on May 20.
Lopes also topped his previous high of four RBIs, set for Rookie-level Bluefield in a 10-7 loss to Danville last Aug. 18.
But as happy Lopes to find consistency at the plate and adjust to the everyday grind, it's the other side of his game where he has made the most improvements.
"The defense is what I'm most proud of," said Lopes. "Mike Mordecai, our [roving infield coordinator], has done wonders with our team. I've learned a lot about fielding with the correct mechanics and being able to do it consistently."
Several Lugnuts had big days at the plate in the 21-hit attack. Center fielder Dwight Smith Jr. was 4-for-4 with a two-run homer and three runs scored and shortstop Emilio Guerrero went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.
First baseman Jordan Leyland added three hits, three runs scored and an RBI out of the No. 8 spot, designated hitter Kevin Patterson homered, doubled and plated hree and catcher Santiago Nessy added three hits, two runs and an RBI.
Lansing starter Matt Boyd struck out three batters over three hitless innings and Colton Turner (1-0) yielded a run on two hits and three walks while recording six punchouts over three frames of relief.
Schepel (4-2) surrendered eight runs on 10 hits over 1 2/3 innings.
In the opener, the Silver Hawks prevailed, 3-2, on an eighth-inning walk-off single by Fidel Pena, who went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.