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Cards' Koperniak cycles for Springfield

St. Louis prospect registers team's first feat since 2011
August 10, 2022

The last time the Springfield Cardinals had a player hit for the cycle, Matt Koperniak was 13 years old.

The last time the Springfield Cardinals had a player hit for the cycle, Matt Koperniak was 13 years old.

On Tuesday night, he remedied that situation.

The St. Louis outfield prospect finished off the cycle with the first triple of his professional career in the top of the ninth inning, driving in an insurance run to boot, as Double-A Springfield outlasted Amarillo in a wild one, 11-9.

“That was my first triple, so I definitely wasn’t expecting to have a night like that,” he said. “I was just trying to get the barrel on the ball, help the teammates out, help get a ‘W.’

“But I was pretty surprised.”

Koperniak kicked off his night with an RBI single through the left side in the first and followed with a double to center in the third. The outfielder connected on his ninth homer of the season in the fifth, a two-run shot to extend Springfield’s lead at the time to 7-4.

“It’s good just starting off with a single there early in the game, getting a hit out of the way takes a lot of pressure off your future at-bats. I was just trying to attack today and was getting good pitches to hit, so it was working for me.”

The Cardinals added two more runs in the sixth and carried a 9-4 lead to the bottom of the seventh, when the Sod Poodles tied the game. The score remained that way until the ninth.

With two outs in the top half, Springfield’s Nick Dunn belted a solo homer to center, and baseball's No. 6 overall prospect Jordan Walker followed with a single to center. That brought Koperniak to the plate needing a triple for the cycle -- but not thinking about it.

“It really wasn’t [in my mind],” he said. “I was just trying to put the bat on the ball in that last at-bat. It was a good pitcher throwing [Blake Rogers], had good velocity, and it was a one-run game, and we had a guy on first. It kind of just all went away because it was such a close game.”

The 24-year-old plated Walker to give Springfield some breathing room.

“Dunn had a homer right before that, so it took a little bit of pressure off of us. Walker had a great single up the middle, and it’s just good to tack on runs later in the game. Playing here in Amarillo, the ball travels well, so you never know what can happen.”

He may not have been thinking about the cycle during his at-bat, but did he know about it when he reached third?

“Yeah, I knew,” he said with a laugh. “It’s pretty crazy, especially being my first career triple.”

Koperniak's cycle was Springfield's first since Eric Duncan notched the accomplishment on Aug. 28, 2011 at Arkansas.

At the end of June, Koperniak’s slash line for the season sat at just .248/.332/.358. In July, things came together. Over 13 games with Springfield, the London-born outfielder hit .364/.417/.500 and even got a two-game callup to Triple-A Memphis, where he went 2-for-3 with a walk. His numbers for the season at Double-A now sit at .278/.358/.405.

“I’ve just been trying to get the swing back into shape like it was last year,” said Koperniak, who batted .306/.405/.445 through 95 games between three levels in his first pro season. “I had a little cold start, but I think as the weather is heating up, playing in the Texas League, it favors the hitters. I was trying to get the bat on the ball and definitely was able to get some good work in up in Memphis, as well. I don’t know, I think things are just starting to click.”

Tyler Maun is a reporter for and co-host of “The Show Before The Show” podcast. You can find him on Twitter @tylermaun.