A few feet more to the left or to the right and Eli White would have completed the first cycle of his career. What he ended up settling for was still a pretty good consolation prize.
White set a career high with five hits and drove in three runs while falling a double shy of the cycle as Double-A Midland used an eight-run first inning to defeat Corpus Christi,12-6, on Thursday night at Security Bank Ballpark. The 23-year-old eclipsed his previous best of four hits set last July 18 with Class A Advanced Stockton and equaled his career high of three RBIs.
"It got to the point there where we had a nice lead and a good handle on the game so I did make an effort for [the cycle]," White said. "I was a little more selective in my approach. I went up there looking for a pitch I could drive into the gap somewhere, but it wasn't meant to be. But that's OK, it was still a great night."
White helped set the tone offensively by bookending the RockHounds' eight-run first with a pair of RBI knocks. He tripled to center to plate Brett Vertigan with the first run of the game before scoring on Tyler Ramirez's RBI single. White drove in his second run of the inning with a single to left and cracked a solo shot to left-center in the third, tying his personal best of four home runs. He beat out an infield single to pitcher Erasmo Pinales and lined another knock to right in the seventh complete the first five-hit game of his career.
"When you see everyone hitting like that, you don't want to be the guy to end it," White explained. "It really gives you a lot of confidence when your teammates are up there having such good at-bats and good results one after the other."
White has compiled a .278 average since he turned pro in 2016, including a .270 mark during his first full season last year in the California League. His five-hit game lifted his slash line in his first 25 games of this season to .323/.396/.535, which includes 10 extra-base hits. His fourth home run matches his total from all of last season in 349 fewer at-bats.
"I wanted to be a little more aggressive this year," the South Carolina native said. "Being selective is good, but I found myself getting into too many two-strike counts last year, which drove up my strikeouts. I worked hard on my swing in the offseason and made a few tweaks here and there. Right now I'm seeing the ball well and putting the barrel of the bat on it consistently. It's been fun."
White was selected in the 11th round of the 2016 Draft out of Clemson. Playing in such a competitive collegiate environment has proven beneficial to him as he's transitioned from amateur to professional.
"The one thing you notice at this level is that everybody is good," he said. "Coming from the [Atlantic Coast Conference], you play a lot of good teams and match up with a lot of other good college players. It does help prepare you in a way, but the competition is still so much higher here and you need to step up with it."
Seth Brown and Tyler Marincov also went deep for Midland, which pounded out 18 hits including seven for extra bases. Brown also doubled and finished 3-for-4.
RockHounds starter Kyle Friedrichs (2-1) picked up the win despite allowing five runs on 11 hits and a walk over six innings. The 26-year-old struck out four en route to his first win since Opening Day.
Taylor Jones and Nick Tanielu homered for Corpus Christi.
Hooks starter Corbin Martin (0-1) surrendered six runs on five hits and a walk in his Double-A debut. The No. 10 Astros prospect allowed the first five Midland batters to reach safely and was lifted after retiring just one hitter in the opening inning.