Owings homers, plates four in rout

Former first-rounder breaks out with 4-for-6 performance

Chris Owings set a career high with four RBIs on Wednesday. (Ken Weisenberger/MiLB.com)

By David Heck / Special to MLB.com | May 11, 2011 9:21 PM

After struggling for the first month of the season, Chris Owings watched tape of his at-bats last season to try to find the difference. After Wednesday's performance, he thinks he might have solved the problem.

Owings went 4-for-6 with a homer and a career-high four RBIs as the Class A Advanced Visalia Rawhide routed the Bakersfield Blaze, 17-8, on Wednesday. The D-backs' 2009 first-rounder fell a triple short of the cycle as he tied a career high with four hits and raised his average from .228 to .248.

"I was just looking at my at-bats from last year and just trying to get that feeling back again," said Owings, who hit .298 in 2010. "I think that might've figured it out. I'm just trying to get back into that same approach."

Owings started off with a ground-rule double in his first at-bat and followed that up two innings later with a two-run homer, his third of the season.

"He threw me a change-up first pitch -- I was just trying to get a first pitch to hit," Owings said. "Then he threw me a slider that I'd seen last at-bat. He left it up a little bit and I put a good swing on it."

The 19-year-old shortstop singled twice more in his final three at-bats. He ended the day with three runs scored and eight total bases, both season highs.

After tweaking his mechanics to match his form last season, Owings said he had been feeling better in the batter's box leading up to Wednesday's game.

"I've been trying to keep the same mind-set and keep the same approach at the plate," he said. "I've been having some good at-bats. Tonight, it just paid off for me."

Overall, Visalia recorded 22 hits in the contest, with seven players in the lineup enjoying multi-hit performances -- including a 4-for-5, five-RBI day from 26-year-old Jon Owings (no relation). The Rawhide did most of their damage in three big innings, plating three in the first, seven in the third and five in the sixth. The team's 17 runs tied a season high, previously set in an April 17 win over Stockton.

"Everybody just brought their A-game," the younger Owings said. "Everybody through the whole lineup. A lot of guys had solid games. We started the game off with a line drive up the middle and it just kept going from there."

With his difficult start to the season, Owings concedes he might have let his frustrations affect his at-bats. But after Wednesday's performance, the tide may have turned.

"Maybe I've been pressing a little bit, starting off a little rough," he said. "I'm just trying to take some positive out of this experience and, hopefully, it got turned around tonight.

"When you know you can do it, it's good to get out there and put some stuff together."

David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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