Some triple plays come together lightning fast, the result of ideal circumstances and physical reactions made without thinking. The one Triple-A Colorado Springs completed on Tuesday night was about something else.
"I would attribute it to being heads-up," Sky Sox manager Rick Sweet said. "It was rather unique. That's not the way they usually happen."
The Sky Sox recorded the fourth triple play in their 30-year history and first since 2014 in a 7-2 loss to the New Orleans Baby Cakes at Security Service Field. The ball went around the infield, but not in the typical fashion: it was scored 5-4-2-3.
Video: The Sky Sox pull off a triple play to end a threat
With New Orleans pitcher Stephen Fife on third base and leadoff man Peter Mooney on first in the fourth inning, Steve Lombardozzi slapped a grounder to Colorado Springs third baseman Gabriel Noriega. Noriega fielded it cleanly and tossed to second baseman Ivan De Jesus Jr. to force Mooney. Rather than pivoting to throw to first, De Jesus fired a laser to catcher Rene Garcia.
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"As soon as De Jesus threw, you knew the runner was going to be nowhere close, that's how accurate the throw was. The throw was perfect," Sweet said. "You teach them to throw chest-high and it was perfectly executed."
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"You really have to tip your cap to De Jesus and Garcia for being so heads-up on the play. Once the ball was hit and the throw went to second, [Fife] broke for home plate. De Jesus made a perfect throw home and Garcia made the tag and looked up. You teach your catchers to come up and check the runner, and that's exactly what he did."
Lombardozzi had taken a few steps toward second and Garcia's throw to Nieuwenhuis gave him no chance to get back to first. He broke for second, but Nieuwenhuis chased him down tagged him out.
Was Sweet surprised to see that Lombardozzi had rounded first?
"Yes and no, because you do usually want your back runners to advance when you see a leading runner's going to be out," he said. "It surprised me that [Fife] didn't stop and get into a rundown because he was going to be out. If he had stopped and gotten into a rundown, Lombardozzi would have been on second and they would still have a runner in scoring position, but when he just slid and Garcia made the tag, as soon as he looked up, he was going to be able to get [Lombardozzi]."
The second triple play in the Minor Leagues this season kept the Sky Sox within 4-1. But Mooney went 3-for-4 and scored twice for the Baby Cakes, who got two RBIs apiece from Destin Hood and Brandon Barnes.
Brewers No. 16 prospect Ryan Cordell delivered an RBI double for Colorado Springs.