A fifth hit in the eighth inning capped a career-best performance for the Marlins' top offensive prospect. Then he got picked off.
"I wasn't even that far off the base," Yelich laughed. "I don't really want to talk about it."
And even though the Jupiter Hammerheads lost, 4-3, on a walk-off single by Palm Beach's Starlin Rodriguez, Yelich's night was what will have Marlins' fans talking.
Miami's first-round pick in the 2010 Draft is finishing off an extremely solid season at Jupiter, one that has included a handful of special nights like Friday at Roger Dean Stadium.
"It's pretty cool. It's the first time it's happened to me in professional ball and it doesn't happen too much at the plate," said Yelich, a 20-year-old lefty-hitting outfielder from California. "When you're feeling good, you have to be a little lucky, too, and that's what happened for me. It ended up being a pretty special night."
Maybe it was luck that he beat out two infield singles. And maybe it was bad luck that he got called out going back to first base on the pickoff (he thought he was safe). Either way, the Futures Game participant is batting .330 and, if you didn't pry it out of him, you'd never know there was a slump hidden somewhere in his All-Star-caliber stats.
"I've had a couple tough stretches, one at the beginning of the year, and that was most memobrbale for me," he said. "That kinda stuff happens and you have to try and minimize it as much as possible. And I've been fortunate to get hot, so it balances itself out."
Yelich tripled and hit four singles on his best night since going 4-for-5 with two homers and seven RBIs on June 28 against St. Lucie. He singled and scored in the first, singled again in the second, tripled in the fourth, beat out an infield hit in the sixth and delivered a line drive single with one out in the eighth.
He said his teammates made sure he knew what was at stake, too.
"Everyone was letting me know about it," he said with a chuckle. "I think I've have had a couple chances this year for a fifth hit and haven't been able to do it, so I was going up there thinking, 'Don't try to do too much, just stick to your approach.' And it ended up working out."
Yelich was right. Besides that seven-RBI night in June, he went 4-for-5 on July 27 against Clearwater. He had another other four-hit game last season for Class A Greensboro.
The drive in the fourth that sailed over the head of center fielder James Ramsey gave MLB.com's No. 27 overall prospect his fifth triple of the season.
"I got a good pitch to hit, he left it up a little bit and I didn't miss it," he said, referring to Cardinals starter Kyle Hald. "I hit it over the center fielder's head, and playing in a big park in Roger Dean, you're thinking three out of the box."
Yelich had a big year in 2011, his first full season in the Minors, when he hit .312 with 15 homers, 77 RBIs and 32 stolen bases in the South Atlantic League. He won't quite match those power numbers -- Roger Dean Stadium isn't known as a hitter's park, even in Spring Training -- but his consistency this season speaks for itself. He batted .298 in April, .263 in May, .421 in June and .343 in July. The five-hit night bumped his August average to .333.
"It's been a good year," he said. "I wasn't worried about getting out of here or having a timetable to get to Double-A. That's their decision, and all I can do is play hard every night."
Yelich also is in a familiar position -- this year's Hammerheads team is largely the same group that he helped lead to the Sally League championship last season. They beat Savannah last summer and will face St. Lucie in the Florida State League playoffs. The Mets are, like Jupiter, mostly the same group of players that played at Savannah last year.
"We've been fortunate to make the playoffs, so it'll be great to cap the year with a championship like we did with Greensboro," Yelich said. "That's everyone's goal."
That three-game series begins Tuesday in Jupiter, and Yelich said the team is ready.
"We both played pretty well, all our games are pretty close," he said. "We're all familiar with each other. It's a lot of familiar faces, guys who have been through this before."