In order to become the Pacific Coast League leader in RBIs and the circuit's co-leader in home runs, Christian Walker learned to stay out of his own way.
Arizona's No. 30 prospect recorded his second consecutive three-hit game to power the Aces to a 9-0 thrashing of the Rainiers at Greater Nevada Field. Walker homered and doubled twice, driving in five runs to bring his 2017 total to 76.
"I'm just trying to keep it simple. I'm trying not to overthink it," Walker said. "Baseball is a hard game sometimes. It's an easy thing to get in your own head and overthink some things."
Gameday box score
Through 72 games with Reno, the the 26-year-old is hitting .297/.359/.594 with 19 homers to tie him for first on the circuit with Renato Nunez of Nashville. Sunday's performance came a day after he collected three singles and two RBIs in a 9-5 win against Tacoma.
"I'm just trying to keep it simple, just trying to put the big part of the bat on the ball," Walker said. "Luckily, I've been getting some good pitches to hit."
Rainiers starter Rob Whalen cruised through a 1-2-3 first inning, but the fourth-round pick of the Orioles in 2012 turned his afternoon around right away, ripping a double down the line in left field to start the second against the right-hander. Zach Borenstein followed with a single up the middle and Jack Reinheimer bounced into a 5-4 fielder's choice to score Walker from third.
Video: Aces' Walker bashes two-run homer
With two outs in the third and Oswaldo Arcia on first following a walk, Walker caught hold of a 1-1 breaking ball and blasted it over the fence in left-center.
"He threw me some sliders and some curveballs the previous time I faced him," the University of South Carolina product said. "I just tried to make my approach beforehand and expect a breaking ball. He left one up and it was a good pitch to hit for me."
The Aces chased Whalen with two runs on two walks and a triple by Hank Conger in the fourth. Another pair of free passes gave Walker an opportunity with the bases loaded and reliever Cody Martin on the hill.
The Norristown, Pennsylvania native fell behind, 0-2, against the righty before knocking a ball off the left-field wall on the eighth pitch of the at-bat and clearing the bases with his second double.
"For me, it's all about the strike zone … to own the strike zone. It's easy to get into swing mode when you're battling like that and seeing a lot of pitches and fouling some stuff off," Walker said. "Just in between every pitch, I kind of just reassure myself to know where the strike zone is and look for a certain location and just trust my instincts."
Video: Walker's bases-clearing double for Reno
He got another chance with a runner in scoring position and two outs in the sixth against Jean Machi, but rolled over a 1-2 fastball to third for the final out.
Rehabbing big leaguer A.J. Pollock walked and scored a run in two at-bats for Reno.