Three's a charm for RiverDogs' Rutherford

Yanks No. 3 prospect triples twice, plates three on four-hit night

Blake Rutherford is 7-for-16 with four RBIs and three runs scored in his last four games. (Zach Bland/Charleston RiverDogs)

By Michael Leboff / | May 10, 2017 8:43 PM ET

A little over a month into his first full season, Blake Rutherford is learning that on some days things go your way and others they don't.

On Wednesday, the odds were in his favor. 

The Yankees' third-ranked prospect roped a pair of triples as part of a four-hit, three-RBI night to lead Class A Charleston to an 11-2 romp over Hickory at L.P. Frans Stadium. 

Box score

"It's baseball. It's all about competing," Rutherford said. "I've had some ups and downs already this season, so I'm just trying to stay consistent. Today, I had balls that were falling; other days, I've hit some harder than I did today and they've been caught. I just want to go out there and fight every at-bat."

Rutherford kick-started the RiverDogs' offense in the first inning when he jumped on the first pitch from Hickory starter Kyle Cody (0-4) and sent it deep to center field for a two-run triple, his first of the season.

It was more of the same in the third for the 2016 first-round pick, who barreled up another first pitch from Cody for another triple, plating Hoy Jun Park to give Charleston a 3-0 lead.

"That's never happened to me before, hitting two triples in my first two trips," the 20-year-old said. "I was just looking for a good pitch, something I could do some damage with and score my teammates."

After a single to center in the fourth, the California high school product flied to left in the sixth against left-hander C.D. Pelham. Despite the out, Rutherford -- who's hitting .318 in 44 at-bats against southpaws this season -- was pleased with how he handled the bat against Pelham.

"He's a tough lefty with a good fastball and some good off-speed,"'s No. 32 overall prospect said. "I was able to battle to work the count. I hit it off the end of the bat, but I was proud of how I worked in that at-bat, especially against a guy who was throwing hard, good pitches from the left side."

Rutherford came up again in the ninth and made good on another first pitch, this time singling to left to complete his third career four-hit game and first in the South Atlantic League.

"I was just looking for my pitch and tonight it just happened to come early in the count," said Rutherford, who owns a .282/.375/.409 slash line in 29 games. "I was able to make some solid contact with the early pitches. I was working hard to make sure I didn't miss it. If I don't get a good pitch early in the count, I focus on battling off pitches until I can get it."

Rutherford had gone seven games between multi-hit efforts and hadn't recorded four hits in a game since going 4-for-5 last July 28 for Rookie-level Pulaski. 

Rutherford, whose defense and arm have been given a 50 grades on the 20-80 scale by, has seen time at all three outfield positions for the RiverDogs, something he hopes to continue as his first full season unfolds.

MiLB include

"I'm just trying to nail down and learn each position as I develop," he said. "All three positions in the outfield are different, but I think that it's a really good thing that I'm playing all three spots because that gives me the opportunity to play any of them as I go up and that's a valuable thing to a team, to not be locked in a position but to be diverse in the positions that I can play."

Estevan Florial homered, doubled and drove in three runs for Charleston, while Isiah Gilliam doubled twice and reached base four times. 

RiverDogs starter Jio Orozco (1-2) put together his best outing of the season, allowing two hits over five scorlesss innings. He struck out three and walked two while lowering his ERA to 6.08.

Michael Leboff is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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