Drive' Hill unstoppable at plate in twinbill

Red Sox prospect reaches eight times, nets three runs, two RBIs

After 44 games, Tyler Hill is tied with Rome's Randy Ventura for the South Atlantic League lead with 18 stolen bases. (Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | May 31, 2017 12:56 AM

Tyler Hill has spent May focused on the task at hand, so he can be forgiven for losing sight of what he did in his last plate appearances.

Over the course of a Tuesday doubleheader, he reached eight consecutive times.

"I honestly didn't notice it. I just kept going, just trying to have quality at-bats each time," he said. "I never realized it until the last time, when I kind of said, 'Oh, snap,' I've got on a lot today. But I didn't [realize that it'd been every time]. I honestly didn't."

The 21-year-old outfielder went 3-for-3 with a double, two RBIs, two runs scored, a walk and was hit by a pitch in Class A Greenville's 10-7 Game 1 loss to Rome in 10 innings, and he doubled again and finished 1-for-1 with a run scored and two walks in the Drive's 5-2 victory in the nightcap.

"It was a long day -- a doubleheader with 10 innings in the first game after 11 innings last night," Hill admitted. "I just wanted to have quality at-bats and get the win."

Video: Greenville's Hill rips RBI double

The 2014 19th-round pick of the Red Sox enjoyed a breakout campaign in the Class A Short Season New York-Penn League last year. Coming into his first full season, the right-handed hitter fell under the spell of Fluor Field's alluring left-field attribute in April and hit .208 on the month.

"I struggled a little bit in April with the Green Monster in Greenville, but I worked out of it, worked my way back to my swing and my approach," Hill said.

Hitting 99 points higher in May, the Delaware native lifted his season average to .261 with a .358 on-base percentage.

Facing sixth-ranked Braves prospect and Ian Anderson, the No. 78 overall prospect, with a runner on first base and two outs in the first inning of the day, Hill worked the count full and hammered the sixth pitch into center field for an RBI double.

"I was trying to get my pitch to hit and drive the run in. Being in the four-hole, that's what you're always trying to do whether the guy is on second, first, third -- just get the barrel on the ball," he said. "I got it to a good hitters' count, to my advantage, and hoped he gave me something I could hit hard in the middle of the field.

"It's good to start the day 1-for-1 with a double. But the tough part of baseball is turning the next page, the next at-bat. You've got to keep going whether you get a hit or not, and that was kind of my focal point today -- being ready for the next at-bat."

He added two opposite-field singles -- one for an RBI in the sixth off Bladimir Matos, and another against Thomas Burrows in the eighth. He pointed to his approach in those two at-bats as a factor in his productive May compared to the chilly previous month.

"That's a lot of my game, working the middle and covering the outside part [of the plate] really well," Hill said.

Video: Greenville's Hill doubles to left

After opening Game 2 with another double, this one to left against southpaw Jaret Hellinger, he walked in the rest of his plate appearances -- no easy feat with a hot bat in his hands.

"That's pretty much the hardest part -- it's not digging out of a hole. It's staying where you're at now and not trying to do too much," Hill said. "That's where I find myself in trouble, when I'm getting out of my swing. That's what I'm up against. Today, I matched it pretty well, but tomorrow's a new day, and I have to go do it again."

MiLB include

Lorenzo Cedrola, Boston's No. 15 prospect, went 3-for-8 with an RBI and a stolen base over the two games.

No. 29 Atlanta prospect Brett Cumberland homered, doubled, drove in four and scored three times in the doubleheader.

Anderson, coming off an outing in which he fanned 11 over six one-hit innings, allowed five runs -- all earned -- on eight hits and two walks while striking out a pair over four innings. He's 2-4 with a 4.40 ERA.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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