May 30, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Purdue baseball alumnus Dan Black connected for three home runs, including a grand slam, in an 18-9 win for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights Thursday evening at the Columbus Clippers.
Black's sixth career multi-homer game in Minor League Baseball saw him also finish with a career-high seven RBI and score four times on a night in which he went 4-for-4 for the Chicago White Sox affiliate. The heroics took place at Huntington Park in Columbus, where the Boilermakers won the 2012 Big Ten Tournament title.
Batting eighth in the lineup as the first baseman, Black (2007-09) hit a solo homer in the third inning, Charlotte's first grand slam of the season in the fifth, and a two-run shot in the top of the sixth. He also singled in his first at-bat of the night. He left the game in favor of a defensive replacement with the Knights leading 16-7 entering the bottom of the sixth.
Black entered his first season at the Triple-A level having hit 52 home runs over the last three seasons while being a three-time MiLB.com Organizational All-Star and the 2012 Carolina League (High A) Most Valuable Player. But he was off to a slow start this season, batting just .223 with two home runs and seven RBI in 37 games entering Thursday's game.
"It was a fantastic night," the 26-year-old Indianapolis native told MiLB.com after the game. "Seems like just the kind of game I needed to kick-start me after a slow start to the season. I had one three-homer game in college [for Purdue]. It was in the Big Ten Tournament my sophomore year against Indiana University. Boiler up." Black became the ninth player in all of MiLB this season to hit three or more home runs in a game. He also tied a Charlotte Knights single-game record.
"Every season has its challenges," the 6-foot-5 switch-hitter said. "This season was no different. New team, new city, new teammates, higher level. I'm sure all were factors. [I made] very minor adjustments of just trying to pull my hands to the inside half of the ball. I've kept the same approach. I have had some tough outs this season, but feel like I will start seeing dividends from my consistency soon."
Fellow alumnus Cameron Perkins (2010-12) also provided some three-themed heroics Wednesday evening for the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils. He connected for a walk-off, three-run homer in the 12th inning of a 9-6 win against Trenton. Perkins' third home run of the season capped a three-hit, four-RBI night.
Perkins was named the Philadelphia Phillies' Minor League Player of the Month in April and is enjoying a strong season. He's recorded 19 doubles and 34 RBI while compiling a .342/.409/.497 slash line, which should earn him Mid-Season All-Star honors for the second year in a row.
Perkins' Purdue classmate Kevin Plawecki (2010-12) has also been swinging a hot bat in the Double-A Eastern League for the Binghamton Mets. He's 13-for-31 (.419) with 12 RBI over his last eight games to raise his slash line for the season to .338/.370/.523. He's recorded 18 extra-base hits and 30 RBI while striking out only 19 times in 151 at-bats this year. Plawecki is batting .389 with 15 extra-base hits in May.
Elsewhere in Minor League ball, Josh Lindblom (2007-08) has worked at least five innings of one-run ball in his last two starts, recording 14 strikeouts vs. one walk, for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats (Oakland A's affiliate) of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He bounced back after a couple rough starts and a short stint on the disabled list. Sacramento leads the Pacific Northern Division and has the second-best record (33-21) in all of the PCL as of May 29.
Nick Wittgren (2011-12) has seven saves in his last 10 relief appearances for the Jacksonville Suns (Miami Marlins affiliate) of the Double-A Southern League. He had just one save in eight appearances in April, getting off to a slow start after being named the Relief Pitcher of the Year by MiLB.com last season.
Brad Schreiber (2010-13) has compiled a 1.29 ERA and struck out 24 over 21 innings in his last 10 relief appearances for the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays affiliate) of the Class A Midwest League.
Matt Bischoff (2007-10) was pitching well (3.03 ERA, 21 Ks vs. 5 walks over 5 starts) as a starter for the Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles affiliate) of the Double-A Eastern League before an injury placed him on the disabled list. He has not pitched since May 14.
In independent ball, Robert Ramer (2010-13) struck out 10 over seven innings of four-hit ball in his May 25 start for the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League. The Otters are 8-4 as of May 29 and have won each of the first three games in which Ramer has taken the mound.