Augusta GreenJackets left fielder Ramon Corona had a game to write home about on Friday night. And that's saying something, since he and his family are neighbors with a future Hall of Famer.
Corona hit his first three full-season homers, tripled and drove in a career-high five runs to power the GreenJackets to a 9-4 victory over the Lexington Legends.
The 22-year-old had just one hit in his first 16 at-bats this season but made some very successful adjustments before facing the Legends.
"I was just trying to simplify things, I hadn't felt really comfortable in the box," the North Carolina State product said. "I was trying to relax and see the pitch and take it back to the basics -- see ball, hit ball."
Corona also took some of the hitting tips he got last summer from family friend Alex Rodriguez. The three-time American League Most Valuable Player lives two houses away from Corona's family in Coral Gables, Fla.
"I had the honor to hit with him a few times last summer down in Miami and I was able to get some tips from him," Corona said. "He kept it simple: stay relaxed, keep your eye on the ball and square up pitches and the results will come."
After Friday night's performance, Corona might be able to offer A-Rod some tips. His 15 total bases were one short of the South Atlantic League record, set by Gastonia's Pat Garman on May 20, 1988 and equaled by Savannah's Anthony Mongeluzzo on April 20, 2002.
Corona admitted it had been a long time since he had a game like this one.
"Maybe in Little League, but other than that ... It's a good feeling to hit the ball hard that many times in one game," he said. "Just to have those results is a great feeling."
None of the three pitchers used by the Legends had an answer for Corona. He led off the fourth inning with his first full-season homer off starter Sergio Severino , then tripled and homered again in the sixth off reliever Brett Robinson (0-1). The Giants' 26th-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft went deep again in the ninth off Jordan Powell.
"I saw a couple more breaking balls after the first home run, but nothing different," Corona said. "I just tried to get up there and get my pitch to hit."
Pitch selection didn't matter much for Corona, who homered on a changeup and two fastballs.
Asked if he planned to share news of his big night with Rodriguez, he laughed.
"I'm sure he'll find out about it. I'm sure my parents will call and tell him," he said.
Reliever Daniel Turpen (1-0) was the beneficiary of Corona's career night, pitching three scoreless innings for the win. Garrett Baker also homered and drove in two runs for the GreenJackets.