Kyle Parker collected four hits, slugged his first Minor League homer -- a no-doubter grand slam -- and collected a career-high seven RBIs on Friday. But his heady baserunning gave the Asheville Tourists a 13-12 win over the Lakewood BlueClaws.
"I was talking to [Joe Mikulik], our manager [and third-base coach]," said Parker, who led off the ninth with his fourth hit, a single, and advanced two batters later on Dustin Garneau's double.
"I said, 'This is probably a good count for [reliever Tyler Knigge] to throw a hard curveball.' And he tried to snap it hard enough and it ended up bouncing in front of the plate. I was getting off [third base] pretty far and it was easy to read."
Parker scored standing up to end a topsy-turvy game in which his club trailed, 9-2. The Rockies' first-round pick in last June's Draft helped to erase that, too. He drove in seven runs, four with a blast in the fourth inning that Tourists broadcaster Doug Maurer estimated traveled 400 feet.
"It felt good. I got behind in the count, 1-2, and was just battling and the guy hung a slider, and I put a good barrel on it," Parker said, referring to reliever Hector Neris. "I have hit a couple balls hard that didn't quite get out, so it was nice to put one out."
While Friday was Parker's best game as a pro, it didn't measure up to his best performance in college. As a Clemson freshman in March 2008, he went 5-for-5 with three homers and seven RBIs in the second game of a doubleheader against Wake Forest.
"I don't know if I could do that one again," Parker said. "Those ones don't come around very often."
Parker, formerly Clemson's starting quarterback, became the first Division I athlete to throw 20 touchdown passes and hit 20 home runs in the same academic year. He returned to school in 2010 for a second season on the gridiron before beginning his baseball career this month.
Ten games in, he's batting .412.
"I feel like I am seeing the ball well," he said. "It took a while to adjust, but I was working hard in the offseason and tried to shorten the learning curve and, thankfully for me, it has kind of paid off."
Other Tourists who enjoyed big nights included Helder Velazquez, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored, and Russ Wilson, another former Atlantic Coast Conference quarterback who smacked Asheville's other home run.