Kent Walton knew he was a triple away from the cycle Thursday, but he never thought he would get another chance to step in the batter's box.
Until the Stockton Ports sent 10 batters to the plate in the eighth inning, that was.
Walton tripled to lead off the ninth inning, giving him the first cycle of his career and in all of pro ball this season. The 24-year-old outfielder also drove in two runs and scored twice as Class A Advanced Stockton outlasted the Lancaster JetHawks, 13-10.
"I'm pretty stoked," said Walton, who was selected in the 23rd round of the 2009 Draft. "It was my first one ever. I was pretty excited.
"[The win] absolutely makes its sweeter, because then you feel like you can celebrate with the team. It was a whole team effort."
Already having homered and singled in the game, Walton doubled with one out in the eighth. Though he was aware that he was only a triple away from the cycle, he did not think it was a real possibility.
"I honestly didn't think I was going get another chance because I think I was in line to be the sixth or seventh batter [in the ninth] until we ran the table in the eighth inning," Walton said.
But the Ports batted around in the eighth, scoring six runs and giving Walton the opportunity in the ninth.
"I knew that I had to get the triple, but I was just looking for something I could hit hard," Walton said. "I thought I got it out. It was a no-lose [situation], because it didn't go out but I still got a triple, so it feels good either way."
Knowing he had squared up the ball but unsure of where exactly it would land, Walton put his head down and set his sights on third base.
"Right when I hit it, it didn't matter where the ball went, I was going to go for three," Walton said. "I'm actually glad Coach stopped me at third, because there was a chance for an inside-the-park home run. I was just running, not thinking at that point."
Walton raised his average from .219 to .297 with his performance. He had not hit a homer or a triple this season until Thursday.
"I've been working a lot with my hitting coach [Brian McCarn] and manager [Webster Garrison]," Walton said. "They've been helping me get my rhythm at the plate. I've been swinging better, and tonight I got some pitches to hit. It was the first time I've felt on time for an entire game all year."
Walton said the feat ranks among his most memorable athletic performances.
"This is probably No. 1," he said. "I see [cycles] on ESPN two or three times a year. I've always dreamed of it. I've been close in the past, a homer away or triple away. It's just cool to get one."