Tide Makes History With Cycle Hitters
Those numbers pale in comparison to the next statistic. Alabama has set what is believed to be a national record by hitting for three cycles this season. The three cycles have been hit by two different players and two have come within the last week.
Hitting for the cycle is a player having a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in the same game.
Senior right fielder Kent Matthes recorded the first cycle against Nicholls State on Feb. 24, followed by junior third baseman Jake Smith and sophomore shortstop Josh Rutledge in the Tide's last two non-conference games. Smith hit for the cycle in a 14-13 loss at Samford on April 15. Rutledge's cycle came in a 21-16 loss at South Alabama on April 22.
"Well, if you look at our record we should probably stop hitting them, since we are 1-2 with them," Matthes said.. "It's definitely a cool thing and a great part of baseball. The cycle is not accomplished that much. You look at the stats and see how many triples we have hit, especially Jake and I. I am sure Rutledge has more than we do because he is faster than us. I may have four or five triples in my career and on one of those days I also hit a double and home run. It's pretty crazy, but it's been fun watching them."
To put it all in perspective only once in Major League Baseball history has one team recorded three cycles in the same season. The 1933 Philadelphia A's, led by the great manager Connie Mack, recorded three cycles in a 12-day period. Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochran had the first cycle on Aug. 2, 1933. Pinky Higgins added the second cycle four days later (Aug. 6) and first baseman Jimmie Foxx gave the A's their third cycle in 12 days on Aug. 14.
In addition, there have been 18 teams in Major League history with two cycles in the same season, including Cincinnati (1893), Detroit (1895 and 1950), St. Louis (1887 and 1960), Philadelphia (1894 and 1901), Boston (1903 and 1944), Pittsburgh (1925 and 1945), Brooklyn (1931), New York Yankees (1937 and 1945), Chicago Cubs (1966), Minnesota (1976), Colorado (1998) and Montreal (2003).
None of the three had ever hit for the cycle prior to this season or had they ever played in a game where a cycle was recorded.
"No, I've never hit for the cycle anywhere," Smith said. "It was a big accomplishment. If we had won the game it would have been a lot better, but it's something to look back on years from now and say I am one of only seven players in school history to hit for the cycle, so that's pretty cool.
"That was the first one I've hit in any league, so it was pretty cool," Rutledge added. "I had never seen one in person before Kent's or Jake's (this year)."
So just how hard is it to hit for the cycle. There have been seven recorded cycles in Alabama's 3,700-plus college baseball games. In the history of Major League Baseball, there have been 286 cycles.
"It's so hard to do," Smith said. "It's not an easy feat to accomplish and then looking back now we already have three guys to do it this year. First, I can't believe that I did it, much less two other teammates of mine in the same season."
"That just shows how rare cycles really are," Matthes said. "Two of the cycles have been overshadowed by losses this year, but you see how rare it is and how tough it is to do. It's tough enough to get four hits in a game and then to get three extra base hits out of those four makes it even tougher. It's definitely rare and cool to be a part of."
"Most people think the home run and triple are the hardest to get," Rutledge said. "I hit the home run first and then a double and then you start thinking about it. Then the triple comes and you think all I need now is the single. You definitely think about it throughout the game."
There have been three cycles in Major League Baseball this season by Los Angeles Dodgers' Orlando Hudson (April 12), Texas' Ian Kinsler (April 15) and Minnesota's Jason Kubel (April 17). All three Tide players were keenly aware of those feats.
"I watch baseball highlights on TV, just to watch a player's swing and see his approach, but to see a cycle is something totally different and neat to watch," Smith added. "It can happen so many different ways. Ian Kinsler had six hits in his cycle and Jason Kubel went 4-for-5 and capped off his cycle with a grand slam. It's pretty cool to watch and see how they accomplish after you have done it yourself."
So who is the next likely Alabama player to hit for the cycle? All three agreed that sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson is the leading candidate.
"It's got to be Ross," Matthes added. He has the speed and power."
CRIMSON TIDE CYCLES: With three cycles this season, Alabama now has seven cycles in school history. Here is a recap of those cycles.
Josh Rutledge at South Alabama (April 22, 2009)
4-for-5, 4 R, 5 RBI
Recorded seventh cycle in school history and third this season ... Philadelphia A's (1933) are only team in MLB history to hit for three cycles in the same season ... Rutledge's cycle was the second cycle for UA in 7-day span ... fourth cycle by UA player on the road ... second UA player to hit for cycle in a loss ... he stroked a solo home run in the third inning and added RBI double in sixth and RBI triple in seventh inning ... capped the feat with two-run single in UA's six-run, ninth inning ... third UA player to hit for cycle in 2009, joining Matthes (vs. Nicholls State, Feb. 24) and Smith (at Samford, April 15) ... second UA player to hit for cycle against South Alabama at Stanky Field (Frank Menechino, 1993).
Jake Smith at Samford (April 15, 2009)
4-for-5, 1 R, 2 RBI
Recorded sixth cycle in UA history ... third cycle by UA player on the road ... first player to hit for cycle in a loss .... he stroked a solo home run in the second inning, singled in the fifth, doubled in seventh and tripled in the eighth ... second UA player to hit for cycle this season, joining senior right fielder Kent Matthes who hit for the cycle against Nicholls State on Feb. 24, 2009.
Kent Matthes vs. Nicholls State (Feb. 24, 2008)
4-for-5, 3 R, 5 RBI
Recorded fifth cycle in UA history ... third cycle in history of Sewell-Thomas Stadium ... had three-run triple in third inning, solo home run in fifth inning, leadoff double in seventh inning and infield hit in eighth inning
Darren Wood at LSU (May 14, 2000)
4-for-4, 3 R, 2 RBI
Wood went 4-for-4 in the Tide's 14-0 win at Alex Box Stadium ... he hit a leadoff triple in the first inning, leadoff single in the third inning and a one-out double in the third inning and leadoff home run in fifth inning ... only player in school history with two career cycles.
Andy Phillips Kansas State (March 23, 1999)
5-for-6, 4 R, 7 RBI
Phillips tied Alabama single-game record with five hits in 27-5 win over Kansas State at Sewell-Thomas Stadium ... also hit two home runs, including first-inning grand slam ... Phillips homered in the first inning, singled in the third, tripled in the fifth, homered again in the seventh before completing the cycle with a ninth-inning double.
Darren Wood Southern Miss (March 9, 1999)
4-for-4, 3 R, RBI
Wood recorded the first cycle in the history of Sewell-Thomas Stadium in a 5-3 win over Southern Miss ... as the leadoff batter in all four innings, Wood singled in the first, tripled in the third, doubled in the fifth and homered in seventh to complete the second cycle in school history.
Frank Menechino at South Alabama (Feb. 23, 1993)
4-for-6, 2 R, 5 RBI
Menechino recorded the first cycle in Alabama history .... the cycle came in the second game of an opening-day double-header at South Alabama in Mobile ... UA posted a 21-6 win ... after striking out in the first inning, Menechino doubled in the second inning, singled in the fifth, tripled and homered in the sixth and grounded out in the eighth.
ABOUT THE CYCLES: Alabama has had three players hit for the cycle this season ... Matthes recorded the fifth cycle in school history against Nicholls State on Feb. 24, 2009 ... Smith added the sixth cycle to the record books at Samford on April 15, 2009 .... Rutledge recorded the school's seventh all-time cycle at South Alabama on April 22, 2009 ... The 2009 season marks the second time in school history Alabama has hit at least two cycles in the same season ... Darren Wood and Andy Phillips both hit for the cycle in 1999 ... Wood hit for the cycle against Southern Miss on March 9, 1999, while Phillips turned the trick against Kansas State on March 23, 1999 ... The seven cycles in school history have been recorded by Frank Menechino (at South Alabama, 1993), Darren Wood (Southern Miss, 1999), Andy Phillips (Kansas State, 1999), Wood (at LSU, 2000), Matthes (Nicholls State, 2009), Smith (Samford, 2009) and Rutledge (South Alabama, 2009) ... Smith and Rutledge are the only two players to hit for cycle during a loss ... Smith and Rutledge became third and fourth players to hit for cycle on the road ... There have been 286 cycles in Major League Baseball history, including three this season ... the three MLB cycles were hit in a four-day span by Orlando Hudson (Los Angeles, April 12), Ian Kinsler (Texas, April 15) and Jason Kubel (Minnesota, April 17) ... There were five cycles recorded in 2008 ... They were hit by Carlos Gomez (Minnesota), Mark Kotsay (Atlanta), Cristian Guzman (Washington), Stephen Drew (Arizona) and Adrian Beltre' (San Diego) ... Drew and Beltre' had cycles on the same day (Sept. 1) to become the second duo in MLB history with cycles on the same calendar day ... the Pittsburgh Pirates (23) have more cycles than any team in MLB history, followed by the New York/San Francisco Giants (22) ... the San Diego Padres, Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays have never had a cycle.