How sweet it was!
Polk State College freshman Daniel Sweet, 19, did something rare and Polktastic Saturday, March 30. The switch-hitting outfielder hit for the cycle with an exclamation point while going 5-for-5 at the plate.
Sweet not only hit for the cycle with a triple, single, double and home run in a 13-5 road victory over St. Petersburg College at the Philadelphia Phillies minor league complex, he stole three bases, drove in two runs, scored three runs, drew a walk and socked a second single just for good measure.
It was wonderful and painful all at the same time.
Sweet happily paid the price of the moment, getting pounded on his helmet at home plate by his excited teammates as he completed the rare feat with a home run – the first of his college career - in the ninth inning.
"It was the worst thing," he said. "I walked in with my helmet on. I got a beating. I was happy. It was very exciting."
Sweet's success at the plate also resulted in the FCSAA's Player of the Week award.
It was well deserved since Sweet had not hit for the cycle in years of travel ball or in high school action.
The Sweetcicle, which includes a walk, a few RBI and a few stolen bases, has been the highlight of his season so far.
He had been having what he deemed a fair season with the Eagles.
However, Sweet was encouraged by a visit from his father, Dennis, from Mississippi, and a friend of his father, just a few days before the historic game.
The visit raised his spirits and perhaps his adrenaline.
"I felt ready to play," Sweet said. "Dad and his friend just left. They gave me some pep talks. I felt relaxed."
Sweet possesses the keen eye and speed it takes to hit for the cycle, but the feat also requires power and luck to get it done.
Sweet possesses the speed.
He is second on the Polk squad with 23 stolen bases, ranking him fifth in the NJCAA. He also had four triples in 35 games, heading into the St. Petersburg contest.
He has the eye, with a batting average of better than .315.
However, power is not one of his more glaring attributes.
He had not gone deep in 129 at bats before the St. Petersburg game.
Though he had hit some four or five home runs in high school at Northwest Rankin.
While arguments can be made for which part of the cycle is more challenging – a triple or a home run, Sweet took care of one of them in his first at bat.
"He's fast," said Polk State College coach Al Corbeil. "When he gets to top gear, he runs as good as anybody in the state."
While batting left-handed, Sweet stroked a triple down the right field line toward the corner and scampered to third.
"I was saying, 'coach please give me the (windmill) sign,' " Sweet said of racing around second base.
In his next at bat in the third inning, he singled to right field, through the second base hole in his second at bat while batting left handed.
The speedster stole second and third base. He scored on a wild pitch.
In his third trip to the plate, Sweet led off the fifth inning by belting a stand-up double to left field with the St. Petersburg defense playing him to pull, or hit to right field.
"That made it a little bit easier," Sweet said.
He drew a walk in the sixth inning.
Sweet continued to roll, peppering a single to left field in the seventh. Then he stole second for his third theft of the game.
That's when his teammates filled him in on the possibility of the cycle.
"I honestly didn't know," he said with a wide, easy smile. "I wasn't really worried about it."
Sweet's handful of high school home runs were largely from the left side of the plate.
But he was facing, a lefty, so he went to the plate planning to hit from the right side.
Lately, he had been working on becoming more of a line drive hitter.
Polk batting coach Collin Martin stopped him on the way to the dish.
"You just got to swing away," Martin told him. "Get the bat head out and let it fly."
Corbeil told him to aim for the left center field pole.
"Oh boy," Sweet said. "I'm not really a home run hitter. Of course I was kind of nervous."
He lined the first pitch, a fastball down the middle, over the left field fence.
"It got out in a hurry," Corbeil said.
"As soon as I hit it, I thought it would hit the fence," Sweet said. "I ducked my head and ran. When I rounded first, I heard the players screaming."
After all the dugout fun, Sweet shared his game memories by calling home. He told his family and former coach, mentor and friend Bob Braddy of his achievement.
Braddy was the Jackson State head coach when he met Sweet as a youngster.
"He was pretty much my second father," Sweet said. "He made me want to strive to get to the top."
The Sweetcicle was particularly sweet for Daniel.
"I've had my ups and downs at Polk State," he said. "I'm learning a lot. I've had my failures and I've had to learn how to handle them. It's been a fun and exciting season."
In looking at Major League history, hitting for the cycle is rare, yet not quite as rare as a no-hitter.
A player has hit for the cycle 293 times while there have been 277 no-hitters.
"I've seen a couple of guys do it," said Corbeil. "I can't remember when I've seen it in college. You see it a couple of times in a Major League season.
A cycle is not as rare as a perfect game, which has been achieved 23 times in Major League Baseball and 82 times in professional baseball around the world.