Scott Cousins knew he had an exceptional night when he slugged three homers and drove in nine runs in a 13-7 victory over Hickory on Aug. 22. But only when the season ended and he got back in touch with old friends, ex-teammates and coaches did the Greensboro Grasshoppers outfielder become aware of how truly remarkable it was.
"It was the first or second comment out of everyone's mouth when they saw me," Cousins said of his feat. "Everywhere I went it was, 'I heard you hit three home runs in a game.' I realized then how special it was."
In fact, Cousins' power display was special enough to earn him MiLB.com's Class A Single-Game Performance of the Year award. When informed of the award, Cousins, who is studying business at the University of San Francisco this offseason, took it in stride.
"I hope and expect to be that kind of player," he said. "I know that's what the [Florida Marlins] organization expects of me, too."
But as buttoned-up as Cousins sounded when recalling his career-best evening, he wasn't afraid to let loose prior to the game. The No. 95 overall selection in the 2006 draft entered the contest with 14 home runs, one short of his personal goal. Yet with just a dozen games left in the regular season, he playfully boasted that he was going to hit 10 more long balls before the year concluded. "Everybody looked at me kinda funny," Cousins recalled. A few hours later, Cousins smacked a two-run homer in the first inning and a grand slam in the second frame. Then, in the eighth, Cousins cranked a three-run shot. Upon touching home plate, the 22-year-old ran past one of Grasshoppers' sluggers, Spike McDougall, and quipped, "I'm coming for you."
Cousins hasn't always had reason to be so confident. After hitting .211 with one home run and six RBIs in 90 at-bats for the Class A Short-Season Jamestown Jammers in 2006, he struggled in the early going for Greensboro, batting just .248 with three homers over the first two months of 2007. But he caught fire over the final months, hitting .318 with 15 homers and 51 RBIs in 68 games.
"I got myself in a huge hole. I'm not happy with how I started off in April, but I'm very happy with my second half," he said of his season. One way he improved his performance was by staying in the moment and not concerning himself with statistics.
"I try and worry about one at-bat at a time," he said. "When you try and do too much is when you get yourself out. Once you start worrying about numbers is when the numbers decline."
If his final three months are any guide, declining numbers don't look to be in Cousins' future. Having had over six weeks to reflect upon his three-homer performance, Cousins said the memorable game has given him the confidence to assume a leadership role.
"To go out and be the guy and a run producer -- that's what I took from the game. It provided the foundation to build myself into a leader."