At times this season, first baseman Luke Quaccia has been stuck with the lowest batting average among Potomac regulars, this in the very summer he wanted to show the Cardinals organization he could be a dependable hitter.
What Quaccia has lacked in quantity he's made up for with quality. His pair of two-run doubles Wednesday night at home against Salem lifted his batting average with runners on base to .313, far superior to his .229 batting average at the time.
"You should be ready to hit every time you go to the plate, but with guys on base it just seems like there's a little bit extra incentive," said the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Quaccia, who bats left-handed. "It heightens your awareness. And the pitchers are really at a disadvantage, because they don't want to walk you in a situation like that."
Three-hit games late this week, including a two-homer game Friday at Lynchburg, have goosed Quaccia's batting average to .242. Even so, that isn't the type of number he was looking for after hitting .279 last year at Peoria, thanks in great part to a productive August.
"I haven't done anything I've wanted this season as far as the first 100 games go," Quaccia said. "Flashes, but nothing like I want to do. All I can do is hope to finish strong and maybe leave a lasting impression."
Through 26 games the second half of the season, Quaccia is batting .337.
"He's not swinging at quite as many bad pitches out of the strike zone like the change-up down in the dirt," Cannons Manager Joe Cunningham said. "That's helping him."
David Kim, another of the team's main RBI men, lately has been the antithesis of Quaccia. Kim had 14 hits in his last 80 at bats before a 3-for-5 night Friday at Lynchburg.
"I've fallen far, and I have a long way to climb up," Kim said. "I'm trying to find my swing again. I lost exactly where I had my hands starting at. It's a matter of trying to get comfortable with whatever swing is going to work."
Before the all-star break in late June, Kim was anxious to go home to New Jersey to see his optometrist. Kim tried wearing the stronger contacts his doctor prescribed, but that only caused more problems. So he's wearing his old ones again.
"Basically, everything's in my head," Kim said. "It will start with a game where you hit the ball well and just don't get any hits out of it. Then you start tinkering with your swing a little bit just to try to see if you change something if you'll get more hits out of it. It kind of collapses there."
"If you go up to the plate thinking," Cunningham said, "you're in trouble. The only thing you want to do at the plate is be looking for the baseball. . . . You have to have a clear mind."
Win Streak Worth Breaking
Headed into the game last night at Lynchburg, the Cannons were amid their fourth three-game winning streak of the season. None of the other three streaks reached four games.
Reliever Jason Marr, second in the Carolina League with 16 saves, made his first appearance in more than a week Friday night when he threw one inning. He had been out after having an infected callus lanced on his throwing hand.