Rewind: Cal Collegiate League ShowcaseSummer Baseball
COMPTON, Calif. — Coming into the California Collegiate League Prospect game, West Virginia’s Chase Illig was already considered the top hitting prospect in the league by the scouts who have been evaluating talent out West this summer. He started the season by getting 33 hits in his 111 at-bats (.371) for the Santa Barbara Foresters. But on Wednesday night at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Illig proved to live up to that billing, earning MVP honors for the night.
On the fourth pitch of his first at-bat in the top of the first inning, Illig sent an arching screamer well beyond the right-center field fence, giving the Nationals team a 2-0 lead it would not relinquish all night. And I mean it was a big screamer. Like one of those no-doubters that saw right fielder Micah Pries take one step back and then just watched the ball sail deep into the night.
“The pitcher (Pacific’s Ryan Shreve) threw me two straight changeups before that and I missed on one of them,” said Illig afterward. “So I decided to sit on another changeup and sure enough he threw another one the very next pitch. I just jumped on it.”
That was part of a nearly perfect night for the highly-regarded Mountaineer. I say “nearly” with emphasis. He went three-for-four with the bat, worked six competent innings behind the plate and also had three stolen bases on the basepaths. Well, make that two stolen bases. On his third attempt of the night, he cleanly stole second base in the sixth inning, without a slide even. But then inexplicably he started walking back to the dugout. Then Illig realized his teammates were yelling that he was safe and for him to return to the base. He tried to dive back to second base, but was tagged out.
So why did he walk off second base after being called safe on the steal? When he got back to the dugout I was standing nearby and I could’ve sworn he told his head coach Bill Pintard, “The second baseman was telling me it was a foul ball. So I started walking back.”… much to the guffaws of his teammates.
Either way, in the postgame, he told Fox Sports color commentator John Jackson that he thought he heard his base coaches yelling “Foul ball!” so that’s why he started jogging back to first base. It turns out the base coaches were telling him to “stand up” since he stole the base without a throw to second.