When Triple-A Gwinnett fell into a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the second inning, Stripers right fielder Ryan LaMarre recalled a saying from his days playing in Rochester that pitching coach Stu Cliburn uttered in many a tough situation. "There's always a way out, he'd tell his pitchers, there's always a way
When Triple-A Gwinnett fell into a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the second inning, Stripers right fielder Ryan LaMarre recalled a saying from his days playing in Rochester that pitching coach Stu Cliburn uttered in many a tough situation.
"There's always a way out, he'd tell his pitchers, there's always a way out," LaMarre said.
And the Stripers did indeed find their way out of the pickle.
With Atlanta's No. 26 prospectAlex Jackson in the middle of it, Gwinnett turned a unique 9-2-6-2 triple play in an eventual 5-4 loss to Toledo. It marked the club's first triple play since Aug. 7, 2015.
"It was unbelievable, I don't think I've ever been on the field for a triple play," LaMarre said. "I thought the ball was a little too shallow to tag on, but you never know. So I caught it and came up throwing. As soon as [Jackson] caught it, I saw him running up the third-base line. I didn't know exactly what he was doing. Then I saw him throw to second, then I saw the runner from third starting off and I'm counting the outs in my outs. I'm thinking, 'Oh my gosh, I think we turned a triple play.'"
The native of Royal Oak, Michigan, grew up about an hour away from the ballpark in Toledo. At least seven family members -- including wife Whitney and mom Mary Anne -- were nestled into the seats behind home plate at Fifth Third Field to witness the bit of history that LaMarre helped start. To have the whole contingent there made an already memorable moment more of a shared experience.
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"They probably got a pretty good view of it," LaMarre said. "It's one of those things they probably would've seen on TV, but it was cool to see in person."
This rocky situation came to pass when No. 18 Braves prospect Patrick Weigel fell into an early hole in the second. No. 12 Tigers prospectJake Rogers drew a leadoff walk, which was followed by a single up the middle by fifth-ranked Daz Cameron. Pete Kozma was plunked by a pitch to load the bases.
But then everything came up Stripers.
Dustin Peterson lofted a soft fly to right that was easily handled by LaMarre and the right fielder fired home to prevent the sacrifice fly. When Jackson caught the ball at the plate, he noticed Cameron well off second base and threw behind the runner to nab him there. After shortstop Luis Marté applied the tag, he saw Rogers wandering off third so he threw the ball home. Instead of relaying to third, Jackson chased down Rogers and dove to tag him before he touched the base.
"I didn't even see the runner at second, so all I was doing was -- after I threw it -- was seeing the guy at third if he'd go," LaMarre said. "I saw he bluffed, Alex caught it and started making his way up the third-base line. Then I saw him throw to second and I'm like, 'Oh shoot, he's off the base.'
"It was one of those you hope [Jackson] gets the last tag on, because you'll take the double play, but a triple play is something you never see, so it's cool."
When LaMarre got back to the dugout, he made sure to let his teammates know of his former coach's lasting words.
"I had some hecklers being funny, when the bases were loaded it was, 'How's your arm? How's your arm?' Well, all right, I'm thinking bases loaded, nobody out, I might get a chance here. I think literally the next pitch the ball got popped up. It's not something you ever expect, you catch the ball and make the throw you're supposed to make and good things ended up happening for us.
"I came into the dugout and was yelling, 'There's always a way out, there's always a way out.'"
The last time Gwinnett turned a triple play, it was more of the traditional variety around the horn. Buffalo's Sean Ochinko bounced to Sean Kazmar Jr., who relayed to Eric Young Jr.. The second baseman then turned quickly back to first baseman Jordan Lennerton for the third out.
The Stripers became the fourth team this season to turn a triple play, with Double-A Montgomery accomplishing the feat most recently on May 1 against Mobile.
Kazmar and Travis Demeritte both homered, but Toledo rallied to the victory. With the score tied in the eighth, fourth-ranked Tigers prospect Willi Castro delivered a go-ahead solo homer -- his third long ball of the year.
Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.