Robert Maddox gets a little extra amped up for baseball on holidays. So it's no surprise that on the Fourth of July, he put on his own fireworks show.
The Reds' first-base prospect went deep three times and knocked in a career-high five runs Wednesday, but it was not enough as the Rookie-level Billings Mustangs lost to the Helena Brewers, 8-7.
The performance marked the first three-homer game in the Pioneer League since C.J. Cron accomplished the feat for Orem on Aug. 2, 2011 at Ogden.
"I was just seeing the ball well and swinging at strikes," Maddox said. "I was laying off those corner pitches that guys will nibble with and try to get you out on."
Maddox's first two longballs of the game were solo shots. The 23-year-old first baseman took Helena starter Michael Schaub deep with one out in the second inning, then did it again leading off the fourth.
"I saw a couple pitches outside, then saw a fastball in and hit that one," Maddox said. "It kind of carried out -- I didn't feel like I got all of it, but I got enough to get it out. The second one was a high fastball. I was just trying to get something going against them and trying to help our offense going. The fastball was up where I like it and I hit it out."
Maddox, who bats lefty, smacked a three-run homer in the seventh off southpaw reliever Taylor Wall. The roundtripper put the Mustangs on top, 7-5.
"The third one was probably the best one, the most exciting of the day," Maddox said. "We had given up the lead late in the ballgame. I saw a changeup first pitch and didn't take a good swing at it. I figured they would come back to it again. I was anticipating the same thing, got it down the middle of the plate and probably took my best swing of the day with the most power behind it."
The Brewers came back for three runs in the top of the eighth, taking a one-run lead. Maddox was due up fourth in the ninth, but the Mustangs went down in order against Helena closer Connor Whalen.
"Any time you're left on deck with a chance to tie or win the game for your team, it's disappointing," Maddox said. "Despite the three homers before that, you want to get that opportunity. I'm not disappointed in my teammates at all, just disappointed not to get that opportunity."
Maddox's effort marks the first three-homer game of his pro career, but not of his life. He also did it once in college on Mother's Day.
So does he reserve all his monumental performances for holidays?
"I try not to, but it seems like it," he said. "You get a little more amped up, I guess, in front of big crowds on holidays. It's just happened to fall on those days. Maybe it's a good luck charm to play on holidays."
Through 13 games for Billings this year, Maddox is batting .340 with five homers and 16 RBIs. The 2010 18th-round pick said his goal this season is to develop just about every facet of his game.
"Keep on working on driving the ball to the opposite field and up the middle," Maddox said. "That aspect of my game I really want to improve on. The mindset I've had all year is to become a better player at the plate.
"Defensively, keep developing. Throw more accurately, increase my range at first base. I think I got a lot better in spring and have gotten better this year. Understanding the game, slowing the game down, not moving too fast and realizing how much time I have at first base ... just improving in every aspect of the game."