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Austin Wates: Home run thief

RICHMOND (WTVR) - Former Virginia Tech and St. Christopher’s standout Austin Wates is moving his way up the minor league ladder for the Houston Astros, spending his first season in Double A with the Corpus Christi Hooks.

This past weekend, he made just about every highlight show you can think of, coast to coast.

Wates was playing left field for the Hooks when he and center fielder Brandon Barnes both went back to the wall trying to rob a home run.

“I heard one of the guys in the bullpen say ‘fence’ and another say ‘jump’” Wates said. “I felt it go in my glove right away.”

Wates made the catch, then he and Barnes collided and went over the wall into the bullpen.

“Once I felt myself hit the fence, I kind of put my arm [out] to make sure I didn’t hurt myself”

Wates made the play uninjured. Baseball rules allow for a player to make a catch and leave the field of play, provided he can bring the ball back into the field of play without dropping it.

“I know what the rule is” Wates said. “So I made sure to hold onto the ball real tight and step over the fence slowly.”

“It’s one of those freak plays that you don’t really think about” Barnes added. “You just kind of go for it.”

The Hooks eventually lost the game 6-0, but Wates has a moment he will remember for a long time.

“I woke up this morning and my phone wouldn’t stop buzzing” Wates said. “I got a bunch more followers on Twitter and I got a bunch of text messages from people I haven’t talked to in a long time, so that’s pretty cool.”

Pretty cool indeed.