All Jose Queliz wanted late Wednesday night was a single. And in the bottom of the seventh inning, he got it.
The base knock completed the first cycle of his brief Minor League career and Missoula's second in a little over a year. On the way, he hit his first career triple and his second homer of the season as the Rookie-level Osprey defeated Helena, 7-3, at Ogren Park Allegiance Field.
The 20-year-old Venezuelan, who served as Missoula's designated hitter, scored three times and drove in two runs. The cycle was the Osprey's first since Daniel Pulfer achieved the feat against Helena on June 27, 2012.
Signed by the D-backs as a non-drafted free agent in June 2012, Queliz is finding quick success in his first season in the United States. He got his first taste of pro ball in the Dominican Summer League last year, where he batted .250 with a .644 OPS.
Queliz has broken out in the Pioneer League. He went 4-for-4 against the Brewers to raise his average to .354 in 23 games.
"Being my first year in the U.S., I wasn't expecting to be here in Missoula," he said through teammate and translator Felipe Perez. "But getting the chance to be here, I'm trying to take full advantage. It's all kind of a rush for me right now."
Queliz took care of the cycle's most difficult leg, the triple, in the bottom of the first. The right-handed hitter drove a ball off the wall and, after right fielder Michael Ratterree had trouble playing it, chugged around second and headed into third with his first pro three-bagger.
"As I was rounding second, I saw [manager Robby] Hammock waving me to third," Queliz said. "I just kept telling myself, 'Keep going, keep going, I want three.' The whole time, I was saying, 'I want three.' And I had a chance to take it."
Queliz followed with a two-run homer in the third. After Jake Miller drew a leadoff walk, he drove a fastball from Helena starter Eduard Reyes over the left-field fence to extend the Osprey's lead to 4-1.
"I went into that at-bat looking for a fastball inside and when I got it, I turned on it," Queliz said. "That ball looked like a beach ball to me."
After doubling in the fifth, Queliz came up in the seventh, knowing he needed a single. Leading off against reliever Andy Hillis, he hit a grounder up the middle that snuck through the infield.
Queliz has a five-game hitting streak and on Saturday went 3-for-6 with two RBIs and two runs scored at Helena. The cycle, however, is clearly the highlight of his season.
"I never thought I would be able to do something like this," Queliz said. "It was the last thing I would expect, being in Rookie ball or being at any level, really. I'm excited and surprised."
Chuck Taylor also homered and Jake Mayers went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, and RBI and a run scored for Missoula, which closed July with back-to-back wins.