Don't call it a slump. Dante Bichette Jr. doesn't.
The Yankees prospect went 3-for-5 with a homer and tied a career high with five RBIs on Friday night, leading Class A Advanced Tampa to a 9-6 triumph over Jupiter at Steinbrenner Field.
Bichette finished a triple shy of the cycle while scoring twice. After grounding out in each of his first two at-bats, he helped the Yankees overcome a 5-1 deficit. The 21-year-old third baseman smacked an RBI double in a four-run fifth, then slugged a tiebreaking three-run homer an inning later. He capped the scoring with an RBI single in the eighth.
"Actually, I had a little skid, I guess you could say," Bichette said. "I was hitting balls hard throughout the whole thing, at least one or two a game. I just stayed with it, it started to fall. I knew the more I lined out, the more hits would fall when I got hot. I wasn't too worried about it."
Bichette also drove in five runs for Class A Charleston on April 8, 2013 and for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Yankees on July 29, 2011.
"I didn't even notice that, but we won by three, so it definitely helps," the Florida native said of matching his career high. "And getting the win is all that matters."
Before posting back-to-back three-hit nights, Bichette was mired in a 1-for-15 funk over his previous four games. Quick to point out that he wasn't in a slump, the 2011 second-round Draft pick made just one change.
"A slump in my eyes is punching out a lot or not hitting the ball hard," Bichette explained. "The numbers just weren't there, but the at-bats were the same. As far as changing anything, the only thing I did was loosen up a little bit. Once things go bad, people tend to stress. Just made sure I was playing out there to have fun. It all came together."
Bichette has raised his average 32 points in two days to .287. He also has four homers and 25 RBIs in 45 games and ranks fourth in the Florida State League with 13 doubles and 23 walks.
"I'm feeling great," he said. "I had a couple of goals as far as numbers went, and as of right now I'm beating them all. I just need to keep this up. I wanted to hit .275, I want to hit 35-40 doubles and I want to hit 10 bombs. I also want to win another championship. That's something I haven't done in a couple of years. That makes things more fun."
Cito Culver contributed four hits, scored three times and drove in three runs out of the No. 2 spot in the Tampa lineup. The 2010 first-round pick has shown signs of coming around, batting .267 with a .351 on-base percentage over his last 10 games.
"It's huge," Bichette said. "That's his job, 1-2 guys are supposed to get on so the 3-4-5 guys can drive them in. Cito's been putting together a lot better at-bats lately. You can see it in the way he carries himself, the confidence is coming back. That's all it is with him, the talent is there. The more confident he gets in what he does, the better he's going to be."
Nick Goody (1-0) allowed one hit in a scoreless inning to get the win and James Pazos struck out the side in the ninth to record his fourth save.
Colin Moran, the Marlins' No. 2 prospect, was 3-for-5 with his first FSL homer and two RBIs for the Hammerheads.