Mike Ford hit a grand slam his sophomore season at Princeton. He's plated runs in the NCAA Regionals and won Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year honors.
But nothing matched the emotion he felt Sunday.
The Yankees prospect homered four times and drove in five runs as Class A Charleston topped Hickory, 17-10. In his first career multihomer game, he set a club record.
"It's a great feeling to do that in a game, to help my team win, to get a much-needed win," the designated hitter said. "I've come close to it, but this is just the greatest feeling."
The game had an ordinary beginning for the 21-year-old. After a relaxed batting practice in the cages before the game, Ford walked in his first at-bat and then struck out his next time up.
The left-handed hitter had been experiencing a power outage of late, going 16 games without a home run and collecting five doubles in that span.
"I started off hot, [but] kind of slowed down a little, just didn't have the power that I had at the beginning of the year. So I've been working in the cages … working on my swing coming down to the ball instead of getting underneath it, not popping it up," he said. "Once you get the first one out of the way, you kind of settle down and you get back to your game plan and your routine."
Ford powered up with a two-run long ball in the fourth, then a solo shot in the sixth, followed by another solo dinger in the seventh. At that point, the Princeton product had tied Charleston's club record for most home runs in a game -- most recently achieved by Yankees' No. 7 prospect Greg Bird on July 19, 2013.
"How does this keep happening?" one teammate asked.
"Oh you're scared to do it," another quipped about a possible fourth home run.
But Ford was ready to do something he hadn't since high school, so he stepped up to the plate and looked for a fastball inside.
"I hit a changeup and a slider out tonight and a couple fastballs," he said. "When you're looking for your fourth home run, that's the pitch you want."
In addition to homers, the cleanup hitter set career highs in hits, RBIs and runs scored in a single game.
Ford joined Pat Garman and Tony Mongeluzzo as the only players to go yard four times in one game in South Atlantic League history. Garman accomplished the feat for the Gastonia Rangers on May 20, 1988 at Myrtle Beach and Mongeluzzo carved his name into history books on April 20, 2002 with the Savannah Sand Gnats at Asheville.
Hitting ahead of Ford, Aaron Judge -- New York's No. 9 prospect -- went 3-for-5 with his fifth homer of the season.
RiverDogs reliever Angel Rincon (1-0) hurled 3 2/3 scoreless frames to pick up the victory.
Paul Schwendel (0-1) was charged with four runs on five hits over 3 2/3 innings of relief.