FREDERICK, Md. - Potomac Nationals right fielder Nick Banks arrived at the high Single-A All-Star break on a hot streak.
Nothing has changed after the Carolina League All-Star Classic.
Banks hit a three-run opposite-field home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Northern Division All-Stars to a dramatic, come-from-behind 8-7 win over the Southern All-Stars at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove stadium. The right fielder connected on a first-pitch 80 mph slider off Myrtle Beach right-hander Paul Richan.
“Honestly, in that situation first and third with a righty up, I knew I was going to get something soft,” Banks said. “He just kind of left it elevated, put a good swing on it, that was that.”
P-Nats second baseman Cole Freeman went 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. His hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the eighth started the rally. He was standing at third base when Banks smashed the heroic blast.
“Lately, he has been an aggressive hitter so he’s been making solid contact,” Freeman said. “He hits that ball well back side. He just stays through it. I’ve seen him hit that at Potomac and it don’t get out a lot of times just because (the park) is a little bigger. That’s at least a run, but I thought it was out. I put my hands up right when it went over the fence.”
Banks - who finished 3-for-4 with the three-run shot, two runs and a walk - was named the All-Star Classic MVP. In his nine previous games heading into the Carolina League All-Star Classic, Banks was scorching the ball, hitting .405, 17-for-42 with two homers and 10 RBIs.
The North trailed 5-0 in the sixth before they started their comeback with a four-run bottom of the sixth. They tallied eight runs in their final three innings.
“We are just all having fun,” Banks said. “When you’re just having fun, you’re not pressing or anything. Everyone started clicking and we started rolling, we didn’t let the momentum stop, being around all those guys and getting to know them as people.”
Banks said about half of his home runs have been to the opposite field this season. Coming into Tuesday’s All-Star Classic, he had already a career-high eight homers and 29 RBIs. Banks thought this one Tuesday was just going to be a base hit.
“I didn’t think I got it up high enough,” Banks said. “I thought it was too much of a line drive. But it was kind of carrying to left a little bit, so I squeaked it over.”
“I didn’t even know it went over. I was still rounding hard and I saw everyone else slow down, and so that’s when I knew. But it was a really cool feeling.”