Inside the Park, Outside the Box

A look at Louisiana Tech catcher Jorge Corona’s inside the park grand slam against Dallas Baptist in the 2022 Austin Regional

Just because something ends poorly, doesn’t mean it was all bad.

One month ago today, the Louisiana Tech Baseball Bulldogs were eliminated from the Austin Regional. And that Air Force team that ended Tech’s 2022 season was the same that launched the magical 2021 run that ended in the Ruston Regional.

But the team that kicked off the Austin Regional was future baseball-only-conference-mate Dallas Baptist. Tech won the tournament game against the Patriots 12-5, but for a game decided by seven runs, there was definitely some doubt midway through. 

After a close contest early, the Bulldogs exploded for five runs in the bottom of the 5th to take a 7-1 lead and what seemed like an easy coast to a winner’s bracket match against Texas.

But a 3-run home run by the Patriots in the next half-inning put that comfortable victory in doubt. A six-run deficit feels insurmountable. A three-run deficit can be taken away with a single swing of the bat.

Tech needed to rebuild that lead to be able to save pitching for later in the weekend tournament. And in the bottom of the sixth, the Bulldogs got the ball rolling. Loading the bases with 2 outs for…Jorge Corona.

This year, it felt like every time the Bulldogs had the bases loaded with 2 outs, it was Jorge Corona at the plate. And depending on if you’re an optimist or a pessimist, you had differing opinions on if you wanted #11 in that batter’s box.

The pessimist would point to the strikeouts. And boy, were there a lot of them. Corona’s 53 strikeouts on the year were second only to Cole McConnell, whose single in the previous at-bat loaded the bases for Corona.

But Corona is also able to go yard. His 16 home runs led the team at the end of the year. If you want a grand slam (and who in their right mind doesn’t?), it’s Jorge Corona who you want in this spot.

So based on his year-long stats, there’s a 20% chance Corona strikes out and a 6% chance for a grand slam.

But the odds of what actually happened are a bit harder to figure out. Corona makes contact (so no strikeout) but not enough contact to will the ball over the fence in right-center field.

The result is an easy fly ball that will end the Bulldog threat and give Dallas Baptist a chance to build off the momentum. The center fielder just needs to take a few steps over to his left and…

*thud*

The ball hits the ground. The center fielder never saw it.

Corona could have easily taken a slow jog after the contact. It was a lazy fly ball to center field that should have been no problem for any fielder. Nobody would have blamed Corona for saving some effort for later in the weekend.

But instead, Jorge ran. 

With two outs, the other base runners were off on contact. Nobody was in his way. Once it was obvious the center fielder had lost the ball in the lights, Corona ran faster.

He made it to second easily. To third without trouble. To home? Why the hell not.

A perfect throw from the outfield wall to the plate probably gets him, but it wasn’t a perfect throw. Jorge Corona has hit an inside-the-park home run.

It’s 90 feet to first base. Another 90 to second. 90 more feet to third. And, unsurprisingly, an additional 90 feet to home. Jorge Corona had just sprinted 360 feet, but he didn’t quit running once he got home. Corona still had 20 more feet to go to join his teammates celebrating outside the dugout.

It went viral almost instantly. ESPN sent out a mobile notification for everyone to watch. Other sports websites and channels immediately started to talk about it, even before checking to see how Jorge pronounces his first name. 

It’s the kind of thing Tech is always on the other side of. 3rd and 93 in 2017. Snapping Kansas’s 22-game losing streak against FBS programs in 2013. The bowl fiasco in 2012. I could keep going but I would just make myself sad.

As Tech fans, we’re used to being on the wrong side of a cruel joke. We always seem to find a way to pull defeat out of the jaws of victory. The so-called “pulling a Tech”.

But not this time.

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