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Wierzbicki homers in 11th to cap cycle

Astros prospect dramatically completes first ValleyCats feat
August 24, 2012
You can watch baseball your entire life and never witness what transpired in Brooklyn on Thursday night.

Tri-City first baseman Jesse Wierzbicki launched a two-run go-ahead homer in the top of the 11th inning as the short-season ValleyCats went on to a 4-3 win. In doing so, he became the first player in team history to hit for the cycle.

"It felt good, man," Wierzbicki said. "It was a special night. It was great to get that win, win the series and come back home with a little momentum.

"This was my first time I've ever even [come close]. To get it tonight was a real special feeling."

The Astros infield prospect tripled in the first inning, doubled in the fourth and singled in the ninth before completing the hitters' Holy Grail with his shot in the 11th. The home run was the 11th of Wierzbicki's career.

While he was well aware of the situation when he came to bat without any outs in the 11th, Wierzbicki said thoughts of completing the cycle were far from his mind.

"I definitely knew what was going on," the University of North Carolina product said. "Ballplayers are always keeping up with their statistics. So I definitely knew what was at stake, but by no means, was I trying to hit a home run or anything like that. I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball and give us a chance to win."

He saw only one pitch in the at-bat, depositing the first Beck Wheeler offering into the left-field bleachers. Wierzbicki, who improved his average to .316 over 58 games for the short-season Valley Cats, said he saw a pitch he liked and took advantage of it.

"I was basically looking to get something early in the count," he said. "I figured I was going to get a fastball early, and he threw me a first-pitch fastball. I was looking to swing at something early, so luckily he threw me that fastball and I was able to get good contact on it."

The last cycle on the New York-Penn League circuit came last season, when now-fellow Houston prospect Jobduan Morales accomplished the feat for Jamestown on July 16.

Mets' 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo hit an RBI groundout with two outs to bring the Cyclones within one in the bottom frame, but John Neely entered to strike out the only batter he faced to pick up his third save for the ValleyCats.

Travis Ballew (5-0) allowed Brooklyn's run in the 11th, but held on to earn the win.

Zack Cox is a contributor to