In a career that has spanned 1,356 games over 15 seasons, Doug Bernier proved Wednesday night that there's always time for another first in baseball.
The Texas farmhand hit for his first cycle, capping the feat with a solo home run in the ninth inning, as Triple-A Round Rock fell to Omaha, 6-5, at the Dell Diamond. It also marked the Express' first feat.
"I never thought I would hit for the cycle," Bernier said. "You've got to be pretty fortunate and [have] things go the right way for it to happen. I guess it just kind of happened. I never really expected it, but it's really awesome."
He got the hardest part of the way by lining an RBI triple to left field with two outs in the second. Bernier clubbed a leadoff double to center in the fifth and bounced a single through the left side in the seventh to set himself up for a shot at history in his final trip to the plate.
"I knew going into the last at-bat I needed a homer, but I wasn't trying to hit a homer," he said. "When the ball came off my bat, I was shocked. Like I hit it, and I knew it was going to go, and I was shocked when I saw the ball come off the bat like that. It was a pretty cool feeling."
With his team down a run, Bernier connected on a 1-1 offering from Omaha reliever Malcom Culver and pummeled it over the left-field wall to seal the milestone and pull the Express within a run.
"We're trying to win that ballgame, and it was good that I was able to contribute," he said. "We just fell a little short. It was pretty cool that it happened in a spot that we needed to get some momentum and tried to scrape a couple runs across."
In the process, the infielder extended his career-long hitting streak to 15 games. Over that span, he's batted .429 (24-for-56). Though he's totaled nearly 1,040 hits in his Minor League career, Bernier had never had a performance like Wednesday's outing.
"I think it was a few years ago. I was a single away and I lined out to the second baseman," he said. "That was by far the closest I've ever been."
While Bernier's cycle was the first in Round Rock's history, it was the third in the Pacific Coast League in less than two weeks, following Albuquerque's Tom Murphy on July 14 and El Paso's Taylor Lindsey five days later. The homer provided a jolt for his teammates.
"It was kind of a weird feeling because we were still down by one, but everyone was so excited," Bernier said. "It was an incredible greeting in the dugout, a lot of hugs and a lot of really big high-fives. It was cool because we all shared the moment together."
The Express remain in the hunt in the PCL American Southern Division as August approaches. Round Rock sits eight games behind front-running Nashville at 50-55.
"We've been kind of scuffling a little bit as of late, but we actually have a really positive outlook," Bernier said. "We've got a lot of guys who love to play baseball. We've got a lot of guys who are positive, and we know in this game, all it takes is to rattle off a couple wins. All of a sudden, you can ride that momentum for a while. Crazy things can happen."
Kansas City's No. 29 prospect Bubba Starling went 2-for-5 with a double and three RBIs for Omaha.
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.