Walker hits for the cycle in wild Aces' win

D-backs No. 30 prospect doubles in 11th inning to complete feat

Christian Walker leads the Pacific Coast League with 41 RBIs and ranks second in total bases and runs scored. (David Calvert/Reno Aces)

By Michael Leboff / MiLB.com | May 14, 2017 2:43 AM

A captivating comeback in the ninth inning afforded Christian Walker the opportunity to do something he'd never accomplished before. And he didn't miss out. 

The D-backs' No. 30 prospect roped a double to center field in the 11th inning to complete the first cycle of his career and the third in team history Saturday as Triple-A Reno rallied for an 11-10, 12-inning victory over New Orleans at Greater Nevada Field.

Video: Reno's Walker completes cycle

The six-run comeback in the ninth was so thrilling that Walker had no idea his hit in the 11th put him in the record books.

"To be honest, I didn't know until I heard the announcement when I got to second base," he said. "It caught me off-guard because of the nature of the game. Especially on a cold night, you just want to win and get out of there as quick as possible. So being locked in was a good thing so it wasn't looming over me."

Gameday box score

In fact, with the game unfolding the way it did, Walker was unsure that any of his teammates or coaches knew he'd just completed the Aces' first cycle since Collin Cowgill accomplished the feat on June 7, 2011.

"I'm not sure what kind of situation it was, but from the sound of it and the way it all played out, being a long game with a lot of at-bats, it was a little bit of a surprise to everyone," he said. "When I got back to the dugout, I got a lot of high-fives and congratulations, but I don't know if they knew and weren't telling me or what the deal was."

2017 Minor League milestones

Walker got the hardest leg of the cycle out of the way in the first inning with a triple to right. Even though it was his first three-bagger since last July 5, the 2012 fourth-round pick was thinking three right out of the box.

"The way this field is set up, that right-center gap is pretty deep and is somewhat of a triple alley," said Walker, who had five triples in his six-year Minor League career. "Off the bat, I thought it was going to split them, so I was definitely thinking three. It's not like it clanked around in the corner or anything, it was kind of just good placement the way it happened."

In the fifth, Walker clobbered a two-run homer to left-center. It was the 26-year-old's 10th homer of the season and moved him into sole possession of second place in the Pacific Coast League, trailing only Jamie Romak, who has moved on to play in South Korea.

"[Stephen Fife] was throwing a good amount of cutters that were getting away from me," Walker said. "So my approach was to use the right side. It was somewhat of a battle -- he made some good pitches and I put some good swings. He threw a breaking ball that he left up a touch and I got a good swing on it."

With Reno trailing, 10-4, in the ninth, Walker kick-started the Aces' wild comeback with a two-run single to right. Hank Conger tied it with a sacrifice fly. 

MiLB include

"Anytime there's a pitching change in the ninth and they need to switch up their plans, that's a good sign for us. It means we've got the momentum," Walker said.

Walker was stranded after his milestone double in the 11th, but Reno won it an inning later as D-backs No. 28 prospect Ildemaro Vargas raced from from second base on a two-out wild pitch by Victor Payano (0-1) . 

"That was a crazy play and kind of a good way to end a kind of crazy game," said Walker, who was claimed off waivers by the D-backs nine days before Opening Day. "It felt like everything was happening in slow motion. It was cold and long, but it sure was a good game." 

Michael Leboff is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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