After a 2-for-27 slump, it was time for Billy McKinney to break out and he did so in a big way Sunday.
The No. 2 Athletics prospect went 4-for-4 with two RBIs, two runs, a double and a walk as Class A Advanced Stockton beat Modesto 12-8 in a back-and-forth contest.
"It feels really nice. I was in a little rut, but I'm just trying to stay focused in and hit the ball hard," the center fielder said. "Just trying to get it all together. I just wanted to put the ball in play and see some holes .…I try to hit the ball hard every day. Some days you get lucky and find the holes."
It was the 19-year-old's second four-hit night of his short career. McKinney went 5-for-5 on Aug. 21 with the Rookie-level Arizona League Athletics last season.
The left-handed hitter's second base knock of the game came on his first bunt attempt of the season.
"I've been trying to get that down for a while. I saw the third baseman [Ryon Healy] was back, so I laid it down and it just worked out for the best," he said. "It felt good."
In his first full season, McKinney has a .224/.344/.410 slash line with a team-leading 23 runs scored, surpassing teammate Daniel Robertson.
"He's been hitting the ball hard lately. He's one of our igniters in the lineup; he's just a solid player. He's young though, first full season and it's the Cal League. He's going to learn a lot about himself, and he's taking a lot of information in," Robertson said. "He was our first-rounder for a reason. He is a heck of a player.
"I think he is just trying to figure out what pro ball is all about. He has a solid approach, he can hit for power, he has speed [and] I think it just takes a while to see how it all works. I'm not worried. He's the purest hitter I've seen."
Robertson also got in on the action against Modesto, collecting three hits and plating three runs. The shortstop has 11 multi-hit games this season and is currently riding a six-game hitting streak.
"It was nice for me to get out there on a day game. I hadn't been seeing the ball well in day games. … I just got a couple pitches in the zone and got a good swings on them," said the A's No. 3 prospect. "Last year, I kept swinging at the pitchers' pitches in the dirt. This year, I feel like I'm getting good pitches and hitting my pitches."
Robertson said the game had an extra feeling of intensity before it even began because everyone wanted to do well and make their mothers proud on their special day, and the four lead changes only added to the excitement.
Wade Kirkland chipped in two doubles and scored three times for the Ports.
Reliever Kris Hall (3-0) picked up his second win in as many appearances after working around a hit and a walk to toss two shutout innings.
Modesto reliever Rayan Gonzalez (3-2) took the loss after allowing a run on two hits while striking out two in one frame.