Hawkins homers, plates go-ahead run

White Sox No. 7 prospect goes yard for second night in a row

Courtney Hawkins recorded a .633 OPS in 103 games with Winston-Salem last season. (Dan Barber/Winston-Salem Dash)

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com | April 5, 2014 11:43 PM ET

High-leverage situations were not kind to Class A Advanced Winston-Salem on Saturday night. Courtney Hawkins made sure it would not haunt his team.

The White Sox No. 7 prospect homered for the second night in a row and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly as the Dash edged Wilmington, 3-2, at BB&T Ballpark.

After finishing his rookie season in the Carolina League, Hawkins returned to Winston-Salem last year but struggled. He hit .178, struck out 160 times in 103 games and missed a month with a strained left shoulder. This spring, the 2012 first-round Draft pick is ready to take a more mature and measured approach to his game.

"What I've learned wasn't just from Winston," Hawkins said. "Just for my career in general and baseball in general, what I did last year is going to help me, as far as me learning. It helps me through every day."

Hawkins erased a 1-0 deficit for the Dash in the fifth inning with his second homer of the season, a two-run blast off Royals No. 12 prospect Christian Binford.

After the Blue Rocks tied it in the seventh, Hawkins came to the plate an inning later with Tim Anderson at third. He lofted a sacrifice fly to the opposite field that proved decisive and came after Winston-Salem went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

"This year, I'm really trying to finally start to understand the situation and situational baseball," Hawkins said. "I have a runner at third, bottom eight, and you know you have to get that run in and do your job. It was either hit behind him or get the ball in the air so he has something to tag on. It was a good pitch to do it with."

The two-RBI performance continued a strong start to the season for Hawkins, who's batting .400 with two homers and five RBIs in three games.

"It feels good, but at the same time, I've been taking stuff absolutely day by day," he said. "When that game's over, I come back and do it again. When that at-bat's over, I come back and have another at-bat. When that pitch is over, I have another pitch. When that play is over, I come back and get ready for the next play.

"I don't try to let the days before drag on and either be down or hyped up because when you come back the next day, you've still got another battle with a new pitcher. It's not going up there like it was before and just, 'Let me be the hero' or 'Let me try to pull the ball as far as I can' or something like that. Just put the bat on the ball and do your job."

Anderson -- the White Sox third-ranked prospect -- singled, doubled and tripled ahead of Hawkins in the lineup to raise his average to .364.

Starter Tony Bucciferro set the tone for Winston-Salem's strong night on the mound by limiting the Blue Rocks to an unearned run on six hits over six innings. Bryan Blough yielded an unearned run in the seventh and Jarrett Casey (1-0) struck out four over the final two frames to pick up the victory.

Both runs Binford allowed were unearned as he scattered six hits and struck out six over five innings.

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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