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Sizzling Cowgill hits for the cycle06/08/2011 1:53 AM ET
By Daren Smith / MLB.com
After Collin Cowgill tripled home the tying run in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday night, his manager, Brett Butler, asked if he'd ever hit for the cycle before.
"I didn't even know that's what I needed," Cowgill confessed after becoming the second player to accomplish the feat in Reno's three-year history. "I was caught up in the moment. I was trying to get [the runner] in, no matter what."
The cycle was part of a 5-for-6 night that ended in the 10th inning when Cowgill reached on shortstop Andrew Romine's error that scored Mark Hallberg and gave the Aces an 8-7 victory over the Salt Lake Bees.
"Hallberg hit a double down the right-field line, puts us in a good position," Cowgill said. "Evan Frey gets him over to third base and I just top-spun one to the shortstop. If he fields it cleanly, I'm probably out. I was giving it all I had down the line."
There was a debate in the press box whether it should have been scored a hit that would have completed a perfect night at the plate for the D-backs prospect. That it remained an error didn't bother Cowgill for a second.
"I didn't expect to get it anyway," he said.
Joining Brandon Watson as the only Aces to hit for the cycle is the exclamation point on a torrid stretch that has put Cowgill among the batting leaders in the Pacific Coast League in his first season at Triple-A. He tied a team record by extending his hitting streak to 16 games and is batting .440 (44-for-100) since May 14.
Not bad for someone who'd never had a double-digit hitting streak in his first three years in the Minor Leagues.
"I just keep the same routine," the University of Kentucky product said. "My hitting coach [Rick Burleson] has me do the same thing every day. He's on me to keep getting my work in. I have to give credit to my teammates. The more these guys are getting on base, the easier it is for me to get a hit."
Playing in a lineup with big league veterans like Wily Mo Pena and Cody Ransom has helped Cowgill get his average up to .366, which ranks fifth in the PCL. He's got 52 runs scored, 40 RBIs, 29 extra-base hits and 17 stolen bases in 57 games.
It's not the first time Cowgill has taken a league by storm. After Arizona selected him in the fifth round of the 2008 Draft, he hit 11 homers in his first 20 games with Yakima of the short-season Northwest League.
"This is kind of different," he said. "In Yakima, every time I hit the ball, it was going out of the park or I'd get out. Right now, it's been great. We're winning, we're in first place in our division. The pressure's off me when I've got guys hitting behind me."
Cowgill started his historic night with a one-out double in the bottom of the first. He reached on an infield hit in the third, singled again leading off the fifth, then smacked a three-run homer that capped a four-run sixth and lifted Reno within 7-6.
"I think that was my fourth at-bat off the guy," Cowgill said, referring to Bees starter Eric Junge. "He was throwing me a lot of sliders and my last at-bat, I hit a fastball. I was ready to sit on something soft. Fortunately enough, I caught it deep and hit it out to right."
That set the stage for the eighth. With the Aces still trailing by a run, Cowgill greeted reliever Michael Kohn by roping a 3-2 pitch to center field.
"I was just looking for something to hit up the middle," he said. "Kohn has a great fastball and a really good slider. I was trying to battle off him. I've faced him a few times, I know he's a really good pitcher. It was a good battle. I was fortunate to hit it on the barrel."
The rest is pretty much a blur.
"[Butler] was telling me to slide," Cowgill recalled. "I think I was in there pretty good."
The center fielder, who turned 25 on May 22, had a three-homer game during that remarkable start at Yakima three years ago. So where does Tuesday night rank?
"I think this is probably the best," he said. "I've never done that before. This is one of those extra-special moments."