Aaron Schunk racked up plenty of hits while playing at the University of Georgia. Beginning his second month as a Minor Leaguer, the hits keep on coming.
The Rockies' second-round Draft pick recorded his first four-hit night as a pro and scored three times in Class A Short Season Boise's 15-12, 10-inning loss to Salem-Keizer on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Gameday box score
After hitting .329 through the first week of July, Schunk said he'd been in a five- to six-game funk heading into Saturday night's game.
"I started pretty well for about 20-ish games," he said. "I was a bit all over the ball. I was getting on the face of the ball and hitting it right at people or just missing a fastball. I noticed I got a little bit long on my swing.
"I went in the cage and changed my stance and became a little more loose at the plate."
Batting in the three-hole, Schunk jumped on the first pitch from right-hander Travis Perry and singled up the middle to help build a run in the first inning.
The 21-year-old doubled to right field in the third but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple by Giants No. 22 prospect Franklin Labour. Schunk doubled to right again in the fifth, plating Isaac Collins to get Boise within 6-4, then scored on a base hit by first-round pick Michael Toglia.
"I saw him [Labour] misplay it a little bit as I was rounding first," Schunk said of his out on the basepaths. "Hawks baseball, we run everything out and we are aggressive. We figure, make them make a play. I saw my third base coach and I had faith in him waving me to third. Only thing going to get me out was a perfect throw.
"Well, they made a perfect relay, my teammates told me. You tip your cap, but I can't complain. They made a really nice play."
An Atlanta native, Schunk picked up his fourth hit with an opposite-field knock to left in the eighth and came around to score on Toglia's fifth homer of the season. Vying for a fifth hit with the Hawks trailing, 10-8, in the ninth, Schunk drew a five-pitch walk. He scored the tying run when Yorvis Torrealba delivered a two-run single.
"A wise man once told me it's the guys that stay within themselves help stay in the game," he said. "When you make it about me or try to hit home runs, that's when you don't succeed. I knew the pitcher [Rayne Supple] was a little wild on the mound."
Schunk said he was looking for a pitch to hit against Supple in the ninth, but he didn't get any he was looking for.
"He threw me a curveball and I wasn't looking for it," he explained. "I gladly took my base because I knew my guys were going to be there and get me home."
During his three seasons at Georgia, Schunk posted a .312 batting average with 19 long balls and 114 RBIs in 154 games. He also went 3-4 with a 2.79 ERA and 20 saves in 38 relief appearances, winning the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award earlier this year. The Southeastern Conference, he said, prepared him well for the Minor Leagues.
"Absolutely. It's unmatched," Schunk said. "The strength of every team you play only makes you better. Every starter could be on this level. To start for three years and find some success has definitely prepared me for this."
2019 MiLB include
Schunk boosted his batting average 25 points to .308, which ranks sixth in the Northwest League. He's also tied for fourth with 58 total bases and ranks fifth with a .496 slugging percentage and .875 OPS.
"I think we are feeling a little frustrated at the field because we haven't gotten to play the way we've wanted," Schunk said. "I think we are on the upswing. We are beginning to mesh better and I think our best brand of baseball is ahead of us."
The Volcanoes erupted for five runs in the 10th, keyed by Labour's RBI double. The Northwest League leader in RBIs, slugging and OPS went 3-for-6 with his circuit-best 14th homer, a pair of walks and two runs scored.