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Lake stays hot to key Bisons’ matinee win

Outfielder Junior Lake continued his hot month, getting three extra-base hits and two RBIs in the Buffalo Bisons’ 9-6 victory over the Louisville Bats Thursday.

Lake hit doubles in the fourth and seventh innings and a triple in the sixth, going 3 for 5 with one steal. He led the way for a Bisons team that had 14 hits, six for extra bases.

“Junior Lake is on fire,” Bisons manager Gary Allenson said. “It seems like he’s hitting about .700. He never stops at first base. It’s always doubles and triples and homers.”

The former Cub and Oriole has hit .413 over the last 10 games and .345 in June, bringing his batting average up to .244 on the season. Lake has hits in 13 of the Herd’s 19 games this month.

It’s an enormous improvement from his performance in April and May, when he often hovered around .200, falling as far as .169 on May 16.

“He’s more under control in the batter’s box,” Allenson said. “Earlier he was chasing a lot of non-fastballs out of the strike zone, and his swing was too big on the fastball. Occasionally once and a while it’s too big, but he’s doing a really good job at laying off the breaking balls out of the strike zone and letting the ball come to him.”

Lake has become one of the Bisons’ most patient batters, leading the team in walks with 29. He has 10 walks in the past 10 games, and that discipline is forcing pitchers to come in on the 26-year-old Dominican.

“I select my pitch,” Lake said. “If they don’t throw my pitch I don’t swing at it. That’s why I feel better at the plate.”

It will take a few more hot weeks for Lake to reach his AAA career average of .278. He’s one of a handful of Bisons with significant MLB experience.

Lake has played in 201 MLB games, going .237 with 46 RBIs and 16 home runs. When he was claimed on waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays in December, his play over the past month was what they anticipated.

It has been a needed uptick for the Bisons, who as a team still sit toward the bottom of the International League in batting average.

“I see the ball better,” Lake said. “I’ve got a good adjustment. I’ve got a better rhythm going. Keep working hard, keep the same approach every day, and that’s all we need.”