Ozuna hits three homers, drives in six

Miami outfielder gets even after being plunked in Jupiter's rout

Marcell Ozuna has 40 RBIs in 60 games this year. (Tony Farlow/MiLB.com)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com | June 10, 2012 6:32 PM ET

When Jupiter slugger Marcell Ozuna hit his second homer of the night Sunday, a few members of the Bradenton squad thought he admired his blast a little too long.

Upholding a somewhat unwritten rule of the game, they plunked the outfielder during his next at-bat. But Ozuna got the last laugh, going yard for his career-best third time to lead the Class A Advanced Hammerheads past the host Marauders, 11-4.

Miami's No. 5 prospect finished the game 3-for-4, tying a personal best with six RBIs, but it was what he did early in the game that set the tone for the rest of his night.

After slugging a three-run homer to left field off Tyler Waldron in the second inning, the 21-year-old then smacked the right-hander's 2-1 offering in the following frame down the third-base line to go back-to-back with first baseman Ryan Fisher.

"In my first at-bat, I took a ball first pitch and then took a pitch for a strike," Ozuna said. "Somebody said, 'Hit it, let's go'. I hit a foul ball, then he threw me a slider for ball two and then I hit a fastball in [for a home run].

"The second at-bat, I waited for a slider. I hit the 2-1 pitch and people shouted at me to run the bases. The pitcher, their manager, their coach. My teammates said they were going to hit me next time, but I didn't do anything."

As predicted, Waldron threw at the native of the Dominican Republic in the fourth, hitting him on the left elbow with the second pitch of the at-bat to load the bases. The pitcher was tossed by home plate umpire Jose Esteras, but Ozuna was not upset.

"I'm a home run hitter. Everybody knows I'm a home run hitter. They know I didn't want to stay at home plate. But I got my HBP and it was OK. I said 'OK, let's play the game.' I didn't worry about it, it's part of the game. But I said I'm going to hit another home run and run the bases hard."

Facing right-hander Hunter Strickland in the seventh with a runner on second and nobody out, Ozuna exacted his revenge, smacking his third longball of the night -- and his 13th of the year -- out to left field.

He is batting .253 with 40 RBIs in 59 Florida State League games. His performance was in stark contrast to his last start, when he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against Brevard County on Friday to extend his hitless streak to 10 at-bats. Entering Sunday, Ozuna was in a .139 (5-for-36) slump.

"Yesterday I got a day off. In the last series the manager said I did not have good games. He told me to have a day off and then the next day I would play. I'm a good hitter. I asked him what happened because I didn't know. I asked my coach and he said my swing was too long and I was a little bit tired.

"Early in the day when we came to the clubhouse, I got some extra swings in the cage and got ready for the game. Today I came back and hit three home run balls. I brought everything to the field today. I felt really good and I want to keep that going for the rest of the season."

In his final at-bat of the night, Ozuna did not take his bat off his shoulder and struck out on five pitches.

"In that last at-bat when I got a strikeout, I was waiting for another HBP because I hit three home runs. In my life I have never had three home runs in one game before," said Ozuna who had a pair of two-homer games within three days in a four-game set against Delmarva last April. "I have hit two, but this is the first time."

Signed by the Florida Marlins as a non-drafted free agent in 2008, Ozuna had recorded four multi-homer games over the past four years. His six RBIs also tied a career best, set on Aug. 12, 2010 for the Jamestown Jammers in a 14-0 rout of the Connecticut Tigers.

On Sunday, Jupiter right-hander Alan Oaks (1-2) earned his first win of the year. He allowed one hit and one walk while striking out two batters over two innings of relief. Starter Robert Morey surrendered four runs -- three earned -- on three hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings. He fanned three batters, but did not factor in the decision.

Waldron (4-3) took the loss for the Marauders, yielding nine runs -- eight earned -- on 11 hits and a walk over 3 2/3 innings.

Ashley Marshall 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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