Corey Toups admits home runs aren't normally part of his game, but he did so on two key occasions Wednesday to help Northwest Arkansas open the postseason with a victory.
Kansas City's No. 30 prospect went deep twice and scored four times in the Double-A Naturals' 9-6 win over Springfield in Game 1 of the best-of-5 Texas League semifinals at Hammons Field.
"That's a pretty huge milestone for me, I wasn't expecting to do that," the 23-year-old second baseman said. "I don't think anybody expects to do that, but it's pretty cool. We are just trying to take it one game, and even more than that, one pitch at a time and try to win these next two games."
After squandering a 5-0 lead, Northwest Arkansas regained the edge in the sixth when Toups lofted a solo shot over the left-center field wall.
"We didn't get down on ourselves," Toups said. "We've had plenty of those games this year where we jumped out to a lead and the other team comes back. [Naturals manager Vance Wilson] just told us to stick with our brand of baseball, be aggressive and put the pressure on the other team. We just tried to put together good at-bats, get guys on base and head them in."
Two innings later, the 2014 15th-round pick belted a two-run shot to the same area.
"I was honestly pretty surprised that it went out," Toups said. "Any time you can score late like that, that's really big. Getting some insurance, it just gives our pitching staff and the relievers some confidence going into the game late knowing they have a comfortable lead."
Mauricio Ramos delivered four hits and Frank Schwindel added three in the Northwest Arkansas offensive attack.
"As a leadoff hitter, I'm just trying to get on base as much as I can because I know those guys behind me are such good hitters," Toups said. "If I can get on and they can head me in, the chance of us winning ballgames is pretty high."
The Naturals will look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead back home when they play Game 2 at Hammons Field at 7:10 p.m. ET on Thursday.
In other Texas League playoff action:
Midland 6, Corpus Christi 2
Joel Seddon pitched five scoreless innings as the RockHounds took a 1-0 lead in the semifinal series. Beau Taylor plated three runs and Tyler Marincov added three hits to spearhead the Midland offense. Game 2 will be Thursday in Corpus Christi. Box score
Michael Peng is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng