Jiandido Tromp swears he's shortening up with two strikes no matter how many times he deposits a two-strike pitch over the left-field wall at Bowman Field.
Tuesday night, he hit two more two-strike pitches for home runs. The Williamsport Crosscutters' left fielder has four home runs in the first two weeks of the season, three of them have come with two strikes. Last night, his two home runs and four RBIs helped the Cutters win their fifth consecutive home game, this one 10-4 over Auburn.
"I just don't try to do too much. See the ball, hit the ball," the 20-year-old Aruban said. "Don't guess anything. Stay short and barrel the ball."
Williamsport third baseman Jan Hernandez dives for a ground ball on a single by Auburn’s Dale Carey during the fifth inning on Tuesday night at Bowman Field. The Crosscutters defeated the Doubledays, 10-4.
Tromp went 3 for 5 as the Cutters pounded out 12 hits last night, including three home runs. Williamsport has collected 27 hits over the last two games, and Tromp has been a big reason why.
He's recorded six hits over the last two days to break an 0 for 12 stretch, as his batting average has climbed from .281 to .357. Small sample sizes and all, when Tromp is on a tear like this, he's good enough to carry an already strong Crosscutters offense.
He does it with a short, compact swing which generates enough power to make the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder look like a legitimate power hitter. Truth be told, he may never be your prototypical power-hitting outfielder, but he's sure acting the part in the first two weeks of the New York-Penn League season.
"He's a strong kid," Cutters manager Shawn Williams said. "To go with the short swing, he doesn't try to do too much. Even with no strikes his swing is always the same. He's putting together some good at-bats."
Last night was the second time this season Tromp has hit a pair of home runs in one game. He also did it a week ago against Jamestown at Bowman Field.
His first homer last night capped a three-run third inning against Doubledays starter Luis Torres. It was an inning extended by a one-out throwing error. Cord Sandberg followed the error with a single to extend his season-long hitting streak to 12, and 13 games overall including the final game of the 2013 Gulf Coast League season.
A wild pitch scored Deivi Grullon from third before Tromp unloaded on a high fastball on a 1-2 pitch for his third home run as a Crosscutter this year, and fourth overall.
His second home run came on a 3-2 pitch to lead off the fifth inning. He pulled an inside pitch down the left-field line and was able to sneak it inside the foul pole for a solo home run which drove Torres from the game.
"I have a short and quick swing. If I barrel the ball, it can go pretty far," Tromp said. "I'm seeing the ball really, really well. That's it."
"He's got a very short swing which is why he's able to have those at-bats and be successful with two strikes," Williams said. "He expands the zone a little bit and he's able to hit some tough pitches for homers. But the biggest thing is to have a short swing. If you have a short swing, you have a chance to have a good two-strike approach."
Williamsport third baseman Jan Hernandez added his second home run of the season four batters after Tromp hit his second homer of the night in the fifth inning. The 19-year-old former third-round pick is Tromp's roommate and the two have been talking hitting a lot since coming to Williamsport.
Hernandez has a tendency to overswing as he tries to drive the ball. But hitting coach Eddie Dennis has gotten him to relax in the box and trust his power. His home run off John Feliz last night was a smooth pass through the baseball which ended with a home run to left which may have been as high as it was far.
"He hit a couple bombs in extended, and his first days here he was trying to do too much," Tromp said. "That's a bomb he hit tonight. He's got some pop. He'll hit his stride and he's going to hit more bombs."
All the offense backed a strong start from recent draftee Preston Packrall who was making his first professional start in place of Ricardo Pinto who is dealing with arm issues. Packrall went four-plus innings allowing three runs and three hits. But his first four innings may have been as dominant a four-inning stretch as Williamsport has had during the young season.
He faced just one batter over the minimum through the first four innings, and the only two batters which reached base did so on errors. But the first four batters reached against Packrall in the fifth - three of which scored - ending his first start.
"I like to see he was using his change-up more tonight with throwing an extended number of innings," Williams said. "Mainly he's sinker, slider out of the bullpen.