Royster homers in sixth straight game

Grabs sole possession of SAL lead with 24th roundtripper

(Tom Priddy/

August 11, 2007 8:29 PM ET

It's starting to get repetitious for Ryan Royster.

Royster homered for the sixth straight game Saturday as the Columbus Catfish used four late runs to defeat the Greensboro Grasshoppers, 8-6.

Royster launched a two-run homer, his 24th, in his first at-bat in the second inning to grab sole possession of the South Atlantic League lead.

"I felt very comfortable in that first at-bat," he said. "[Pitcher Tom Cowley] was trying to change speeds on me, but it didn't have a huge effect on me. The home run was just seeing the ball and letting it travel."

The 21-year-old left fielder also singled and scored in the third and eighth. Through the four-game series, Royster belted five homers. In the last six contests, he has bashed his way to seven roundtrippers and 15 RBIs, including a two-homer, six-RBI night at Greensboro on Friday.

"This was the first day I've really thought about it," he said. "I had a BP where I took some half- and three-quarter swings -- I took pressure off my swing. It's a relaxed swing, and it allows me to see things easier."

The recent tear, he said, has less to do with tinkering with his swing and stance than his mental fortitude.

"I've stepped up my focus," he said. "I wanted to get [the streak] out of my head before the at-bat. I forced it out of mind before getting into the batter's circle. I want to finish as strong as possible, and I still have a long way to go."

Royster's teammates have been helping him along the way, giving him tips and keeping him loose.

"They hassle me," he said. "They're having a good time giving me a hard time. They've been helping me out, and there's no better group of guys I've played with in my four years of professional baseball."

The rest of the Catfish (29-18) picked up where Royster left off as John Matulia hit a two-run single in the eighth to knot the game,6-6, and Matthew Fields blasted a go-ahead two-run shot, his 15th, in the ninth.

Quinn Stewart also cranked a two-run homer in the third, his 20th, and third in three games. Nevin Ashley doubled in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and scored two runs for Columbus.

Catfish reliever Ryan Reid (6-4) yielded one hit over three shutout innings with four strikeouts and one walk. Starter Woods Fines allowed two runs on eight hits over four frames and fanned three.

Chris Hatcher went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the fourth and a career-high four RBIs. Scott Cousins chipped in a solo shot, his 13th, for the Grasshoppers (22-27).

Greensboro reliever Blake Jones (3-4) gave up two runs on four hits while striking out one and walking one over 1 2/3 innings. Starter Cowley allowed four runs on six hits over 4 1/3 frames with five strikeouts and a walk.

Michael Blinn 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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