Robbins hits for cycle as Dash fall to Hillcats

Indians prospect Bradley leads Lynchburg rout with three hits, homer

By Chris Tripodi / MiLB.com | April 27, 2016 1:08 PM ET

On Friday, Gerson Montilla registered Winston-Salem's first cycle since May 2008, the season before the team changed its name to the Dash. Five days later, teammate Mason Robbins registered the second in a 12-6 loss to Lynchburg.

"It feels good, that it's the first time they've been done by Winston-Salem in a long time," Robbins said of the cycles. "It's the first time in my career, something you can cross off your bucket list in baseball, but if we could've gotten a win, it would've made it a little sweeter."

The 23-year-old outfielder started Wednesday with an opposite-field double to left in the second inning before going the other way again for his first homer of the season in the fourth. A sixth-inning single up the middle left Robbins a triple short of the cycle, and it didn't hit him that he was so close to history until he was reminded by a familiar face.

"My roommate said, 'You won't hit a triple,' and then I kind of thought about it and said, 'I do need a triple for the cycle,'" Robbins said. "That's when it kicked in, but I didn't do anything different from the previous three at-bats and just tried to get a good pitch to hit."

A triple wasn't a totally unexpected development for Robbins, who legged out nine three-base hits in 124 games with Class A Kannapolis last season. In his final at-bat in the eighth, the 2014 25th-round pick came through with his first three-bagger of the year -- to center -- to complete the feat.

"Whenever I hit a ball in the gap I'm thinking out of the box it's three," Robbins said. "I hit it kind of high and thought I had a shot at a triple and when I saw it hit off the wall, I knew I'd hit a triple."

Robbins boosted his average 55 points to .259, with the three extra-base hits doubling his season total. The 6-foot, 200-pounder isn't known as a power bat after slashing .263/.281/.361 last season in the South Atlantic League, but that didn't matter as he put his name right below Montilla's in the Winston-Salem record book.

"I'd like to hit more home runs, but I try not to keep that in my mind," Robbins said. "I like to be a gap-to-gap hitter, a doubles, triples guy. Whenever I do hit home runs, it's always a good bonus."

The Hillcats used a 10-run fifth to deal the Dash their eighth loss in nine home games this season. Indians No. 3 prospect Bobby Bradley and Ivan Castillo delivered the big blows with three-run homers.

"We had a lot of good at-bats that inning, working deep in the count," said Bradley, who also homered Tuesday. "[Claudio Bautista] worked that leadoff walk and we just took it from there."

Despite losing 20 games to an oblique injury at Class A Lake County last season, Bradley led the Midwest League in homers (27), RBIs (92), slugging percentage (.529) and OPS (.890). If his past two games are any indication, he might be in line to repeat that feat in the Carolina League this year.

After hitting .200 with 27 strikeouts in his first 14 games with Lynchburg, Bradley has a four-game hitting streak and is 6-for-9 in his last two contests.

"Me and hitting coach Larry Day made a couple adjustments to my swing," he said. "[I wanted] to get back to [how wide] I was last year vs. how I was standing this year. Not trying to hit homers as much but more trying to hit line drives into the off gap, and that has helped a lot. The beginning of this year I was more narrow, standing almost straight up."

With his recent surge, Bradley is tied is for second in the league with five homers, two behind Wilmington's Ryan O'Hearn, the Royals' No. 13 prospect. He leads the circuit with 22 RBIs and ranks in the top 15 in slugging (.556) and OPS (.909), but numbers don't matter much to MLB.com's No. 90 overall prospect.

"I don't even really pay much attention to them, I just like to play the game," he said. "I don't get too concerned with the stats. I want to do whatever I can to help this team win a championship."

Indians No. 23 prospect Greg Allen added three hits and two RBIs for the Hillcats, who improved to 16-4 and already have a 3 1/2 games lead atop the Northern Division.

Chris Tripodi is a producer for MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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