Tyler Pastornicky knew he was only a triple away from the cycle. And given the slightest chance, he was going to do everything he could to get to third base in his next at-bat.
"I was just trying to hit ball hard and see what happens," Pastornicky said. "I knew in the back of my mind if I put ball in the gap, I would have to try to stretch it."
The Braves' No. 9 prospect tripled in the eighth inning Tuesday to record the first cycle in Mississippi Braves history. Atlanta's Double-A affiliate ultimately bested Jackson handily, 14-7.
"It's awesome," Pastornicky said. "It's a pretty good feeling to do something like that. It's pretty rare in baseball."
A fifth-round selection in the 2008 Draft, Pastornicky came to the Braves organization with Alex Gonzalez and Tim Collins in the July 14, 2010 deal that sent Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes to Toronto. The 21-year-old shortstop had his ups and downs in his first season with Mississippi, batting .254 with two homers in 38 games. He has fared better this year, however, and he is hitting .298 with 22 extra-base hits in 79 contests.
"Getting traded as a pretty young kid, it's a little bit of a shock at first," Pastornicky said. "The Braves have been awesome with me. They've made it as easy a transition as it could be. I've loved it every day that I been here.
"Last year, getting half a season at Double-A, that was great for me. It showed me what it was. It got me a taste of it. I struggled a little bit, but I think I held my own. It prepared me for this year. I knew what I had to do and to get better, to have success."
Over his last two games, the Florida native is 7-for-12 with four extra-base hits, three runs scored and three RBIs.
"Before that, I kind of went into a mini-slump for about two weeks," Pastornicky said. "I came back and watched a little film, had a couple good talks with our hitting coach, Garey Ingram. He brought it back to simple stuff -- quit pressing so much, have some fun at the plate. It's paid off, and we've been winning. That's always fun. Hopefully we can keep this rolling throughout rest of season."
Pastornicky started his hit parade with a leadof homer in the third inning, then singled in the fourth. He doubled in the fifth, which set the stage for his final at-bat of the game.
Facing Scott Savastano, a position player who normally plays third base, Pastornicky smacked a ball in the right-center field gap.
"As soon as I hit it, I knew it probably wasn't going to get caught," he said. "I put my head down and ran until I stopped at third. I was going to try to make them throw me out. It's pretty rare -- if I had a chance to do it, I was going to take it."
Having made history, Pastornicky said Tuesday's game ranked among his most memorable baseball moments.
"I would probably have to put this one No. 1," he said. "Even in high school and when I was small, I don't think I ever hit for the cycle. It's definitely an honor, and to do it with my teammates in a pretty good win for us, it was fun."