66ers' Witherspoon snaps off cycle

Inland Empire outfielder triples in the eighth to complete feat

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com | May 24, 2012 10:30 PM ET

Travis Witherspoon, a speedy runner to begin with, was heading for third regardless when his long fly ball carried out to center with just the triple left to complete a cycle in the eighth inning Thursday.

But it didn't hurt when the ball ricocheted weirdly off the wall, either.

Class A Advanced Inland Empire's leadoff man was sitting at 3-for-4 with a home run, a double and a single already in hand, when his shot sailed over Lancaster center fielder George Springer's head and bounced awkwardly off the wall into no-man's land.

The three-base hit completed the cycle for the outfielder, and the 66ers' handled the JetHawks in a 12-6 win.

"I was going to try [for third base] anyway," joked the 23-year-old. "I hit it out to the center field wall. [Springer] was going back on it, got too close to the wall and missed it. It just ricocheted into center field. I saw that and I knew I was going to third."

It was the third cycle of the Minor League season and second in the California League in a three-day span after Desert's Stefen Romero and Erie's Tony Plagman both accomplished the feat Tuesday. It was the second feat at Lancaster's expense and also almost the first of two cycles for Inland Empire on Thursday.

Shortstop Jean Almanzar came up in the top of the ninth already having hit a homer, a triple and a double, but grounded out in his bid to capture the single. Witherspoon said the two were pulling for each other.

"We were hoping we'd both get it," said the 2009 12th-round Draft pick. "I didn't realize he was that close himself, but when I found out I hoped he'd get it too. He had that last at-bat and had a chance, we were definitely rooting for each other."

The Angels' No. 19 prospect said he'd personally never hit another before at any level.

"It's an awesome thing to do," he said. "My teammates were in the dugout cheering, telling me congratulations. It was cool they were happy for me."

Witherspoon's big day gave a lift to his overall numbers, bringing his average up to .284, his on-base percentage to .346 and his slugging percentage to .453 after he finished 4-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBIs. For the season, the South Carolina native has five home runs, five triples, seven doubles and 20 RBIs.

In his last three games, he's 7-for-11.

"I've had some good at-bats, but not the results I wanted [this season]," said Witherspoon. "The last few games have just been about going back to what works for me. Hitting to the big part of the field, getting my pitch, staying disciplined. It's been clicking a little bit."

Almanzar finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs scored. No. 3 Angels prospect C.J. Cron also homered and doubled.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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