Tim Roberson was rounding first base in the 10th inning when he noticed his first base coach, Joe Thurston, yelling at him.
"You got to go for it, you got to go for it," he remembered hearing.
The Red Sox prospect realized what his coach meant -- he needed a triple to hit for the cycle. Roberson sped up, then cruised into third base to complete the feat and produce the go-ahead run Friday night as Double-A Portland rallied past New Britain, 13-11.
"Just one of those nights, I saw the ball well," Roberson said. "Almost speechless and never expected that, but I'm blessed and happy that we got the win, most importantly. To do it at the professional level, and at the place I'm in here and in this moment, I'll definitely remember this one for the rest of my life."
Playing just his eighth game of the season after starting the year on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle, Roberson went 4-for-6 with six RBIs. After grounding out in the first, the 25-year-old designated hitter smacked a double to left field in the third. In the seventh, he came up with the bases loaded and no outs.
"I was looking for a good pitch to hit. I kind of chased the first pitch, a curveball down, and I was just looking for something up and to put a good swing on it. And I got that and squared it up," Roberson said.
He smacked his first career grand slam and his first homer of the season to get the Sea Dogs within 10-9.
"It felt good because we're down five at that point and it got us back to within one and we're battling all night. And it felt really good to help the team out and get us within one."
After the Rock Cats answered with a run in the home half of the frame, Roberson and Portland kept battling. Oscar Tejeda led off the ninth with a walk and the DH followed with single to left. After Luis Martinez sacrificed the runners into scoring position, Marco Hernandez singled them home to force extra innings.
Although he was one hit shy of completing the cycle, a triple wasn't on Roberson's mind; he said he thought about trying to help his team complete the comeback. With two on and one out in the 10th, the non-drafted free agent sent an 0-2 pitch to center field for his third career triple.
"I got a pitch up and put a good swing on it and things happened from there," he said. "Just blessed that I get to do this every day and be a part of this. And what happened tonight, I'll never forget for the rest of my life. Some things have to happen [to get a triple] -- I'm not the fastest guy in the world but luckily, tonight was in my favor."
The cycle was the first of Roberson's career. The last time he came close to completing the feat was at Florida Gulf Coast, where he drew a four-pitch walk in his final at-bat and fell a single shy. While the cycle earns a spot in Eastern League history, Roberson said getting the win was the most important thing.
"They all had smiles on their faces and they were happy for me. We have a great group of guys here. I've known them for the long time and they were just happy for me, and I love every one of those guys I play with," he said. "We're all competitors and at the end of the day, every guy on this team wants to win and that's the most satisfaction out of all of it is we ended up getting the win tonight and hopefully, we can keep it rolling from here."
The cycle was the first by a Sea Dog since Cory Keylor hit for one on Aug. 4, 2007 against Harrisburg.
Rockies No. 3 prospect David Dahl and No. 27 prospect Pat Valaika each had four hits and three RBIs for the Rock Cats, with the latter falling a triple shy of the cycle. The loss ended New Britain's 13-game winning streak.
Reliever Pat Light (1-0) registered the last four outs for the win, fanning three in a perfect outing.
Rock Cats reliever Kraig Sitton (0-1) was charged with two runs in the 10th and took the loss.