Weiss legs out inside-the-park grand slam

Pirates infielder uses wheels to record first pro roundtripper for Power

Erich Weiss had 13 extra-base hits in 51 career Minor League games entering Sunday. (Sam Santilli)

By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com | April 13, 2014 7:24 PM

Baseball can be a game of split-second decisions and on-the-fly reactions. Witness Pirates infield prospect Erich Weiss.

When the second baseman stepped into the batter's box with the bases loaded and one out, all he wanted to do was hit the ball hard in the air somewhere. Then he fell behind in the count, 1-2, and just wanted to put it in play. And finally, when his sinking live drive got past the dive of center fielder Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado, he was thinking three-run triple all way.

At least, until he saw his third-base coach, catching coach Miguel Perez, waving him home. Then Weiss turned on the afterburners.

Weiss legged out an inside-the-park grand slam Sunday afternoon in the Class A West Virginia Power's 10-6 win over the Lexington Legends. It was not only his first professional homer, but his first ever with a wooden bat.

"It was pretty awesome, it was funny how it ended up," Weiss said. "It was a good feeling once I got back to the dugout. It just hit me that it was my first one. [My teammates] were all just smiling and laughing, it was pretty exciting."

The inning started innocently enough with Weiss flying out to left field off Austin Fairchild.

Then things spiraled out of control for the Legends. Five consecutive Power batters drew walks and Reese McGuire got hit by a pitch to plate the third run of the inning. Danny Collins doubled home two runs and JaCoby Jones followed with a free pass to fill the bases once more.

The Legends brought Luke Farrell out of the 'pen, but Weiss laced the fourth offering he saw to left-center field, chasing all three runners home before scampering around himself.

"Initially, my mind-set was to just score one run," said Weiss, who is batting .378 with seven RBIs. "The fact that there was one out, a sac fly would do the job so I wanted to get it to the outfield. When I got behind, I went back to my two-strike approach and choked up on the knob. I wanted a short swing and to get the barrel on the ball.

"It was a low line drive and the center fielder ran in and tried to dive for it. When it went past him and to the fence, I thought I have to run hard and try to get to third base. When I saw Miggy waving me home, I just went for it."

Selected by the Pirates in the 11th round of June's Draft out of the University of Texas, Weiss slid home safely as the throw pulled catcher Chad Johnson off line.

The 22-year-old said he has never been a power hitter. Instead, he has crafted his career around plate patience, high contact rates and on-base average.

The left-hander hit just 10 homers in 604 collegiate at-bats over three years as a member of the Longhorns, but his all-round game saw him selected to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in 2011. He played summer ball for the Chatham Anglers in the Cape Cod League in 2013.

On Sunday, center fielder Justin Maffei was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, two runs scored and an RBI out of the leadoff spot and right fielder Danny Collins reached base three times, plated three runs and scored once out of the No. 3 spot. Dovydas Neverauskas (2-0) allowed a run on four hits and a walk while striking out four batters over five innings in the victory.

Lexington's Austin Fairchild (0-2) yielded nine runs on two hits and six walks over 1 1/3 innings.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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