Ballplayers often say hitting is contagious. Whatever got into Class A Advanced Stockton on Thursday night was likely brought to them by Skye Bolt.
"You see the guy in front of you drive a baseball well, that gives you confidence that you're going to get something to hit and that you can do the same," the 23-year-old said. "Once that line gets going, it's contagious. We all know it."
The A's outfield prospect collected five hits and six RBIs, both career highs, in the Ports' 22-0 blowout of the Rawhide at Banner Island Ballpark. Bolt belted his 15th homer and four singles to score three runs to raise his average to .242.
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"All season it's been pretty up and down for me," he said. "Good week here, then a bump in the road the next."
Bolt has hovered around his present average for most of the season and is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak, during which he is 14-for-42 (.333).
"I have just been working on getting ready to hit," Bolt said. "It's just been gearing up for that heater, trusting my hands and really just getting something going to be on time and getting ready to attack that fastball. That's still the pitch that you want to hit."
All nine players in the Stockton lineup recorded at least two hits as the team totaled 25. Following Eli White's leadoff double against Visalia starter Bo Takahashi in the first inning, Bolt poked a single on the ground through the right side to drive in a run.
"We're all loose and having fun, that's something big for morale," the Atlanta native said. "It was great to have the hits, great to have the guys on to drive in. Especially this late in the season."
The run-scoring knock set the tone for the Ports, who lit up the scoreboard in each of the first four innings to take a 13-0 lead. Bolt popped out to short in the second, lined another RBI single to right in the third and followed with a three-run homer to right-center the next inning.
With one out in the sixth, the University of North Carolina product picked up his third single and scored on Seth Brown's grand slam. It was the second grand slam in four games for Brown, who also has homers in eight of his last 11 contests. The shot was his 27th long ball of the year and he finished with five RBIs to give him 104 this season. The first baseman became the first Stockton player to rack up 100 in a single season since Chris Carter in 2008.
"We all love watching him hit. It's fun to watch," Bolt said. "We all know it's been in there and now he's finally starting to put the barrel on the ball more consistently with the kind of strength he has at the plate, really to all parts of the field."
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The fourth-round pick in the 2015 Draft popped out to third to lead off the seventh, but added another RBI knock in the eighth, bringing home Argenis Raga with an infield single to cap the scoring.
Branden Cogswell singled four times and scored three runs while Mikey White homered and doubled on a four-RBI night. for Stockton.
Right-hander Brandon Bailey (2-1) surrendered one hit and three walks while striking out seven over five innings.