Sacramento River Cats

Area baseball beat: Justin Higley hits rare inside-the-park grand slam

Justin Higley (Jesuit, Sacramento State) pulled off a rare feat last week.

The A’s minor leaguer hit an inside-the-park grand slam in the eighth inning last Sunday to break a 6-6 tie and lead the Vermont Lake Monsters past the Connecticut Tigers 10-7 in a Class-A Short-Season New York-Penn League game at Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt. He also doubled, walked and scored three runs.

It was just the second inside-the-park home run at Centennial Park in the Lake Monsters’ 21-year history.

In five games against Connecticut this season, Higley is 8 for 19 with seven runs scored, two doubles, a triple, three home runs – including another grand slam the traditional over-the-fence way – and 14 RBIs.

Through the Lake Monsters’ first 14 games, Higley, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound 21-year-old, led the Lake Monsters in hits (16), doubles (five), homers (three), RBIs (16), total bases (32), stolen bases (four), slugging percentage (.571), on-base plus slugging percentage (.888) and strikeouts (18).

Higley is in his second minor-league season after the A’s drafted him in the 13th round last year. In 42 games in the rookie Arizona League last season, he hit .275 with seven doubles, four triples, six home runs and 29 RBIs with an on-base percentage of .363 and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .853. However, he also averaged better than a strikeout a game.

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