Saturday, August 11, 2007

Catfish beat Greensboro, Royster homers again

Columbus Catfish outfielder Ryan Royster hit two home runs -- the 5th straight game he's gone yard -- to help lead the Catfish to a 15-9 win over the Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins) Friday night.
After homering only twice in 27 games in July, the 21-year-old left fielder has eight roundtrippers this month. According to the Royster, it's all about mechanics.

"I'm seeing the ball a lot better and I've cut down on a lot of my body movement," he said. "I'm keeping my hips back and taking much of the tension out of my swings, which in turn helps me see the ball."

The 2004 sixth-round draft pick drilled a two-run blast in the third inning and a three-run shots in the seventh to tie Kannapolis' Christopher Carter for the South Atlantic League with 23 homers. Royster also drove in a run with a groundout in the sixth but fell one RBI short of his career high, set on May 23 against Charleston.

Although he knows baseball can be humbling, Royster wants to ride this wave as long as he can.

"The last few games have been great. I'm enjoying it and having fun and I try and take that attitude into each and every game," he said.

"I'm a bit of a loudmouth, always laughing and such, but after I had that slump in July, I made a point of focusing more. If I did well, I tried to remember my mind-set, which in turn would give me confidence. So far this month, it's been working for me."

Quinn Stewart chipped in his 19th homer and Cesar Suarez went 3-for-6 with three stolen bases and three RBIs for the Catfish (28-18), who pounded out 17 hits.

Columbus starter Jeremy Hellickson (11-2) allowed six runs on six hits and a walk over five innings but struck out 10 to win for the eighth time in his last nine decisions. Wilton Noel yielded a run on a hit and two walks with three strikeouts in three frames to pick up his first save.

Royster's performance, while outstanding, was just a part of a balanced Catfish attack. Every Catfish batter either had a hit or scored a run. In fact, all but two had multiple hits, and all but two had at least one RBI.

The win kept the Catfish on pace with division-leading Charleston, who lead the Catfish by 1-1/2 games. The series with Greensboro wraps up tonight with the Catfish needing a win to gain a split. They head to Hickory, NC to open a 4-game series starting Sunday evening.

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