Filed by Ward Gossett
Assistant Sports Editor
Hitting for the cycle is one of the most unique feats in baseball at any level. The odds are near astronomical against a player hitting a single, a double, a triple and a home run in the same game.
An example: Gene Etter is the veteran of Chattanooga's high school baseball coaches, so the Baylor coach has seen the stars and standouts come and go. He had never seen one of his players over the 37 years he’s coached the Red Raiders accomplish the feat until last week when Charlie Tidwell pulled it off against Central.
Tidwell did it in reverse order, getting a home run, then a triple, a double and a single.
"We had to get one runner on for him to get his last at-bat," Etter said. "The first two made outs, and I believe (Rowdy) Byrum had an 0-2 count and got hit by the pitch," Etter said. "After the ball hit Rowdy, it bounded in Charlie's direction, and he exuberantly picked it up and fired it back to the pitcher. He then stepped in the box and hit the first pitch for a sharp single up the middle."
Tidwell, also a pitcher for Baylor, was the team's designated hitter that day, the Red Raiders' senior day, and was hitting for senior Cale Hildebrand.
"I felt a little sad that Cale wasn’t getting to bat on senior day, so I told both Cale and Charlie I was going to let Cale bat at least once in the game," Etter said.
But with a shot at the cycle on the line, Etter went to Hildebrand and told him he really wanted to let Tidwell bat once more. Hildebrand responded unselfishly. He was well aware of Tidwell's possible accomplishment.
"He said, 'I know.' It was good that the game was not on the line, so all of our guys were zoomed in on the possible cycle," Etter said.
It took a bit of luck for Etter and Hildebrand to even get in that situation.
Etter said Tidwell's double came when Central's left-fielder lost the ball in the sun, and then Tidwell ran through Etter's stop sign at second on his triple.
"He made it easily enough that I didn’t even mention to him that he did it," Etter said. "A general rule is for the player to make his own decision on a ball he can see.
"It is the first cycle by a Baylor player in at least 37 years —; since I've been either head or assistant coach —; and only the second one I’ve ever seen."
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