Shore’s Michael Jelliff Hit Two Grand Slams in the Same Inning: ‘I Can’t Believe I Just Did That’
It was the Shore Conference baseball equivalent of witnessing Halley’s Comet streak across the sky or seeing lightning strike the same spot twice.
Even after Shore Regional senior second baseman Michael Jelliff achieved a feat on Opening Day that probably hasn’t been done in generations in the Shore, if ever, it still did’t register.
“When I touched home plate on the second one, I still couldn’t believe it,” he said.
In Monday’s season-opening 15-1 win over long-time rival Rumson-Fair Haven, Jelliff hit two grand slams – in the same inning. It brought back memories of the St. Louis Cardinals’ Fernando Tatis, who did it against the Dodgers in 1999 to become the first and only major-leaguer to hit two grand slams in one inning in history.
The score was tied at one before Jelliff, who started the game 0-for-3, keyed a 14-run eruption in the top of the sixth inning at Hal Lorme Field in Rumson to end the game via the mercy rule.
“I was like, ‘I can’t believe I just did that,”’ he said. “It’s something I’ll always remember.”
“I have never seen anything like that,” Shore head coach Pat O’Neill said. “The kids were going crazy on the second one, and I was in awe a little bit at what just happened.”
Jelliff hadn’t hit a grand slam since Little League, and he technically had zero career home runs in his three-year varsity career up to that point.
Last year he homered in a season-opening 8-1 win over Rumson, but it was ruled a ground-rule double by the umpires in the game. The ball actually cleared the mesh fence at Shore’s home field, but it was ruled a ground-rule double because the umpires mistakenly thought it landed right in front of the fence instead of behind it.
O’Neill credited Jelliff with a home run in their team statistics, so as far as the Blue Devils are concerned, Jelliff has now hit three home runs in his career, and all of them have come against Rumson on Opening Day.
“Doing it off our biggest rival, it doesn’t get better than that,” Jelliff said.
Shore had taken a 2-1 lead on Monday when Jelliff, who bats third in the lineup, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded for the first time in the sixth. He ripped a fastball on a line the opposite way, and it just cleared the short fence in right field to push the lead to 6-1.
Jelliff couldn’t resist a little dance before touching home plate.
“I was just trying to get the team hyped,” Jelliff said. “I mean, it’s opening day against our rivals, let’s go.”
“As a coach you’re excited, but I had to get on him a little bit because it called for some discipline,” O’Neill said.
The Blue Devils took advantage of walks and errors and continued to hit the ball hard, bringing Jelliff back to the plate in the same inning against a different reliever. He left no doubt this time, booming another fastball for a grand slam over the left field fence and into the driveway of a house across the street to give him a single-game school-record eight RBI.
“I was so fired up on the second one,” Jelliff said. “I didn’t even realize it was a grand slam at first because I was so focused.”
His teammates were delirious by that point as the Blue Devils were in the midst of a 14-run frame, which also may be a school record.
“They were like, ‘I can’t believe you just did that,”’ Jelliff said.
The Shore seems to have a knack for grand slam-related feats, as Middletown North tied a national record by hitting three in one inning against Howell in 2002. However, all three were by different players, leaving Jelliff as possibly the only player to hit two in one inning in Shore history.
The irony of Jelliff’s explosion is that O’Neill came into the season believing that power-hitting wasn’t going to really be Shore’s game.
“You go into the season and your kids just take enormous hacks,” O’Neill said. “For the first month, I’m just teaching them an approach, so you’re trying to teach kids to cut down on their swings. All I kept saying to the kids is, ‘None of you are home run hitters.’ I came in the dugout after (Jelliff’s) second one, and they’re like, ‘Coach, none of us are home run hitters, huh?”’
O’Neill was also worried the Blue Devils might struggle to score runs in the early going. Two of their top returning hitters from last year, seniors Matt Pennell and Mick Zimmerman, elected not to play this spring to focus on football and preparing for the U.S. Naval Academy, respectively, and starting third baseman Ryan Jones suffered an ankle injury late in the preseason.
Coincidentally, Jones’ father, Lester, has the Shore Regional single-game record of three home runs, which he set in 1982 against Central Regional, and his 7 RBI in that game was tied for the school record until Jelliff surpassed it.
Shore had scored a grand total of seven runs combined in its five scrimmages. Jelliff, who hit .319 and had eight extra-base hits as a junior, exceeded that output in one inning.
The Blue Devils finished with 11 hits in the win, including a 3-for-4 day for James LaBruno and a pair of hits and two walks by Dean Smolokoff. Winning pitcher Michael Deusch also had a three-run triple.
The only downside for Jelliff, who will attend East Carolina in the fall, is that it’s basically impossible to top his record-setting day.
“I’ve peaked in my baseball career in the first game of the season,” he joked.
WATCH: Middletown North’s Brendan Doherty hits a walk-off single to win the season opener
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