While playing baseball at Bradley University, Mike Tauchman hit five home runs as a freshman, but only three more in three seasons after BBCOR regulations took the sting out of aluminum bats.
Still, Tauchman was two-time team captain and MVP for the Braves, twice leading the Peoria, Ill., Division I program in batting average, and was taken in the 10th round of the 2013 draft by Colorado.
In one season at Tri-City, covering 236 at-bats, he didn’t homer. He also failed to clear the fences in 25 at-bats this season while playing for the short-season Dust Devils.
But a strange thing has happened since Tauchman joined the Modesto Nuts. He homered in his third High-A game, and on Tuesday, in his first at-bat in spacious John Thurman Field. Tauchman, a lefty, hit an opposite-field home run.
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“I don’t know what’s happening because it’s not something I’m used to,” Tauchman said. “I just try to have good at-bats. I really don’t try to hit home runs, but I’m not going to complain about it, especially the inside-the-park homers.”
Yes, his first homer was an inside-the-parker at High Desert on Saturday. He hit a line drive down the left field line, and in chasing the ball the left fielder couldn’t stop in time to avoid flipping over the bullpen fence.
Before anyone could retrieve the ball, Tauchman had circled the bases.
“It was wild and I’d never seen anything like that,” Tauchman said. “Off the bat I thought I had a knock and maybe I’d be able to stretch it into a double. Then I saw he missed it and I lost sight of him. The next thing I saw was that he was on the other side of the fence and at that point I half-expected time out to be called.
“I kept running, hit home and looked back. At that point I remember thinking ‘Wow, I think I just hot my first home run’. It definitely will be a good story to tell.”
It would have been nice for Tauchman to connect on a home run that he could have admired on its way out, but that wasn’t the case again on Tuesday, when his line-drive to left snuck over the Thurman Field fence, just over the 312-foot sign.
“I don’t hit the ball far enough to trot,” Tauchman said. “I’ll save that for guys like Ribby (Jordan Ribera) or (Will) Swanner. They hit them far enough to trot. If I hit one it’s going to scrape the wall on the way out.”
For a look at a quick chat with Tauchman, click HERE.
HAAAAR-ROOOOLD BACK IN THE CAL LEAGUE
Harold Riggins, the popular 2013 Modesto Nuts first baseman, is back in the California League with the Bakersfield Blaze.
Riggins, 24, who hit .247-22-65 last year with the Nuts and was playing in Double-A Tulsa, was traded Wednesday to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for oft-injured pitcher Jair Jurrjens. Jurrjens, 28, a once-promising Atlanta righty and former National League All-Star, will report to Colorado Springs.
Riggins’ stay in Modesto always will be remembered by fans for the “Harr-olllld,” chant when he came to the plate, a verbal response to Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song (Day-O).” The chant is certain to be revived when the Blaze visits Thurman Field July 11-14.
FEW TICKETS REMAIN FOR INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION
The annual Independence Day baseball game and extended fireworks show is set for Thursday, and only a few reserved seats remain for the 7:05 p.m. first pitch against San Jose.
According to Nuts general manager Tyler Richardson, there were 300 preferred grandstand ($8) and 200 general admission ($7) seats remaining. When those are sold, standing-room-only tickets ($5) will go on sale.
The Nuts ticket office opens Thursday morning at 9 a.m. Tickets also can be reserved online at modestonuts.com or over the phone at (209) 572-4487.