Bees' Hunter posts first five-hit game

Angels outfield prospect doubles, scores season-high three runs

Torii Hunter notched his first multi-hit game of the season a week ago with his father in the opposing dugout. (Travis Berg/

By Marisa Ingemi / | April 29, 2018 8:10 PM

A week ago, Torii Hunter was mired in a slump. On Sunday, anyone watching wouldn't have known.

The Angels prospect went 5-for-5 with a double and three runs scored in Class A Burlington's 8-7 loss to Kane County at Northwestern Medicine Field. He's collected hits in seven of his last nine games to raise his batting average 118 points to .243.

Gameday box score

Hunter eclipsed the four-hit game he posted last Aug. 16 with Rookie-level Orem on his way to ending the season on a 13-game hitting streak. That finishing kick included multi-hit efforts in nine of his last 11 contests.

On Sunday, the son of the nine-time Gold Glove winner singled to right field in the first inning and lined another base hit to left in the fourth, coming around to score on a groundout by Keinner Pina. Hunter beat out an infield hit, a self-described "swinging bunt" off a slider, in the sixth and scored on a single by Spencer Griffin. In the eighth, he singled again, this time to center, and trotted home when David MacKinnon drew a bases-loaded walk.

"I'm trying to make good decisions and not chase outside of the zone as much," he said. "That's something this organization stresses. I want to track pitches in the zone so I give myself the best possibility to hit the ball hard."

Hunter's day at the dish ended with a double to right in the ninth, although he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. 

The five-hit day matched the one his father had in his 19-year big league career -- on June 1, 2005 against Cleveland. 

"I've been sticking with the plan," the younger Hunter said. "I started out struggling this season. My coaches have continued to help me and direct me. At the beginning of this week, I worked a lot and found a better approach."

The former Notre Dame wide receiver had three hits in his first eight games with Burlington and did not register his first multi-hit effort until April 23, when he went 2-for-4 with his first Midwest League homer and four RBIs. But that change in approach appears to have turned his season around.

"I just want to make sure I'm ready to hit," he said. "I need to get my foot down earlier. I've changed my leg kick, kind of took it out. I'm trying to get into a better hitting position earlier. Being ready to hit and recognize the pitches coming in, I'm just trying to make sure I'm ready everywhere."

When Hunter was scuffling earlier this month, he wasn't overly concerned because of the success he had at the end of his debut season. It was just about translating that success to a new level.

"I knew I could hit at this level," he said. "My vision and confidence, I got encouragement last year. The end of last year, knowing what I did, it makes me want to get better every day, I just always want to better myself."

With his batting average at a season high, Hunter is focused on staying consistent and carrying his success through the rest of the season.

"I know how to get better," he said. "The pitching has been a step up between Rookie ball and A-ball. That's the biggest thing, just trying to deal with pitchers who know how to pitch a good game. I want to continue to stay humble and keep working and build on this."

Pina finished with two RBIs, while Angels No. 5 prospect Brandon Marsh went 2-for-5 with a run scored for Burlington.

The Cougars scored three runs in the ninth and walked off with the win on a one-out single by Yoel Yanqui. Ernie De La Trinidad drove in three runs for Kane County.

Marisa Ingemi is a contributor to Follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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