August 22, 2007 - South Atlantic League (SAL) - Greensboro Grasshoppers
GREENSBORO, N.C. - On Monday night, Scott Cousins decided to have some fun and get a tattoo.
Wednesday night, Cousins tattooed Hickory for three home runs and nine RBIs to lead the Greensboro Grasshoppers to a 13-7 win over the Crawdads. A crowd of 6,014 watched the performance at First Horizon Park.
With the win, the Hoppers gained another game on the Crawdads in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League. Greensboro (30-29) now trails Hickory (34-24) by 4½ games with 11 remaining in the second half. The teams wrap up their series with a game Thursday at 7 p.m. at First Horizon.
"Anything can happen," Cousins said. "Edwin (manager Edwin Rodriguez) came in before the game tonight and said let\'s win out and see what happens.\'"
The nine RBIs were one off the South Atlantic League record, set in 1978 when James Barbe of Asheville drove in 10. Cousins improved his home run total to 17 and boosted his RBIs to 68.
He drilled his first home run, a two-run blast to right field, off Hickory starter Matt McSwain in the first inning. Cousins came up against McSwain in the second with the bases loaded and ripped a grand slam to right field. In the eighth, against reliever Felipe Garcia with two runners on, he drove one out to right center field.
Cousins said he had never done anything even close to that in his career. Two homers and four RBIs were his tops.
"Guys kept getting on base ahead of me and that put pressure on the pitchers and forced them to throw strikes," Cousins said. "I was able to zone in on a pitch. The first homer came on a fastball, the second on a hanging slider and the third on a fastball."
As for the tattoo, Cousins picked an eagle to adorn his back just below his neck. "I\'ve always wanted one on my back and the eagle is my favorite animal," he explained. "I just wanted to have some fun."
Cousins has hit the ball well in the second half of the season after going through the first half without much confidence. He said that changed when his uncle died and he took several personal days away from the team.
"I talked about it with (hitting coach) Anthony Iapoce and he said I would come back rejuvenated," Cousins said. "I feel like my uncle has been looking down on me."
Iapoce said he had been through something similar when his mother died while he was playing.
"You just take your time and get your mind right," Iapoce said, "and when you come back you play harder because you\'re playing for that person all the time. You always use that for motivation."
All three home runs, Iapoce said, "were rockets. He put good swings on them and wasn\'t trying to do too much."
The Hoppers played without John Raynor, out indefinitely with an injured ring finger on his right hand. Rodriguez said he won\'t rush Raynor back into the lineup.
Second baseman James Guerrero assumed the leadoff role and set the table all night with three hits, two walks and four runs scored. Rodriguez said Guerrero set the tone by fouling off numerous pitches in his first two at-bats to give Cousins a good look at what McSwain was throwing.
Hickory\'s Jonel Pacheco hit his 23rd and 24th home runs and Kent Sakamoto had four hits, including his 14th homer. Spike McDougall hit his 19th for the Hoppers.