After leading the Eastern Division of the Arizona Fall League for all but one day, the Mesa Solar Sox saw their bid for the 2013 AFL Championship denied with a 2-0 defeat to the Surprise Saguaros.
Steven Souza Jr. was the only National in the starting lineup. The 24-year-old, who was recently added to the Washington 40-man roster, batted fifth and played centerfield. He singled to lead off the 2nd inning but was caught stealing by Ranger backstop Jorge Alfaro, who gunned him down with a reported pop time of 1.78 seconds.
Souza would line out sharply in his second at-bat, but strike out in his final two plate appearances to finish the game at 1-for-4. Defensively, the Nats 2007 3rd-Rd. pick played centerfield, where he had two putouts and an assist, as Alfaro struck again with an RBI single but was gunned down on the 8-2-6 relay.
Brian Goodwin and Adrian also appeared in the game, with Goodwin grounding out to second in the top of the 8th and Nieto catching the bottom half of the inning, but had no putouts or assists.
Mesa finishes 2013 with a record of 19-12 with a Opening Day tie.
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With the completion of the AFL schedule, the 2013 minor-league season — the fourth this site has covered, if you can believe that — now really comes to a close. A shoutout to Lee Magenheim, our photographer in Arizona, who’s provided the AFL pictures for the past two seasons and has plans to do it again in 2014.
Mesa’s 2013 Arizona Fall League season began and ended in Glendale, and Sammy Solis was on the hill for both the 1st and title-clinching 19th wins as the Solar Sox scorched the Desert Dogs, 9-3 to earn a berth in the AFL Championship game.
The 25-y.o. southpaw allowed one run on six hits over five innings to notch his league-leading fifth win. He walked none and struck out four, throwing 68 pitches, 49 for strikes. His 29 K’s also led the circuit.
Brian Goodwin and Adrian Nieto were also in the starting lineup for Mesa.
Goodwin was the DH and went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored, as the 23-y.o. North Carolina native came in from second base on an infield single that the shortstop knocked down just past the infield grass. He also walked and struck out twice.
Nieto caught and batted seventh. He went 1-for-5 with an RBI single and made seven putouts and one assist on a dropped third strike.
Mesa finishes the season at 19-11-1, winning their last six games consecutively to edge Salt River, which fell a half-game short at 19-12 and were winners of seven straight. Surprise was the AFL West title winner with a mark of 18-12-1.
The Solar Sox will face off against the Saguaros, who will send Baltimore prospect Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound in tomorrow’s AFL Championship game. Matt Purke, who has not pitched since last Saturday, is among the possibilities for Mesa, which has not yet announced its starting pitcher.
Steven Souza Jr. homers off Alex Meyer in the 2nd inning to give Mesa the early 2-0 lead (Photo Credit: Lee Magenheim)
The race for the Arizona Fall League East Divison title will come down to the final day of the season, as Mesa edged Glendale, 3-2 and Salt River paddled Scottsdale, 8-5.
Steve Souza’s two-run blast was the catalyst for the victory and came off former teammate Alex Meyer in their first matchup as opponents, as the two never faced each other this season in the Eastern League. It was the sole hit for the 24-y.o. who finished the game at 1-for-4 with a strikeout and extended his hit streak to seven games.
Matt Skole also appeared in the game, playing third base where he had a putout and two assists. He would score what would prove to be the decisive run a fourth-inning triple that the Desert Dogs misplayed into a Little League HR with an error. Skole also singled in the 2nd inning to go 2-for-3 for the game with a walk and a strikeout.
Richie Mirowski gave up the first Glendale run in the 5th on a double, wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly but struck out two of the final three batters he faced. It was just the third run he’s allowed in nine appearances this fall.
The win, which was Mesa’s fifth straight, improved the Solar Sox to 18-11-1 but just a 1/2 game better than the 18-12 Rafters. In head-to-head play, Salt River has defeated Mesa four times in six games. An 11-inning-tie between the Solar Sox and the Desert Dogs on Opening Day is what separates the top two teams in the AFL East.
As speculated earlier this week, Sammy Solis will be given the start today as Mesa visits Glendale for the season finale. A Solar Sox win or a Rafters loss will clinch a spot in the AFL Championship game, which will be held Saturday in Scottsdale against the AFL West-winning Surprise Sagauros.
The Solar Sox scored early and often, scorching the Javelinas by an 8-1 count for their fourth straight win.
Mesa’s victory was only enough to keep pace with Salt River, which took a 7-2 decision from Glendale for their fifth straight trimuph to remain just a ½ game back in the AFL East.
Adrian Nieto was the sole National to appear in the game. The 23-y.o. catcher batted eighth and went 1-for-3 with a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored to improve his line to .279/.360/.349 in 12 games played.
Defensively, Nieto let up his second passed ball (which accounted for Peoria’s lone run) and recorded nine putouts, including the tag on a 6-3-2 double play in the 8th inning as Delino DeShields Jr. tried to score from second on the grounder with no outs.
It’s the final home game this afternoon for the Solar Sox, as they send the tireless “TBD” to pitch against the Desert Dogs and former Nats farmhand Alex Meyer. Salt River travels to last-place Scottsdale in the evening.
The Solar Sox took one step closer to a bid for the AFL Championship with a 4-0 shutout of the Javelinas.
Just two Nats appeared in yesterday’s game…
- Batting from the #2 spot in the lineup, Brian Goodwin went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts and played centerfield, making a single putout.
- Adrian Nieto caught and batted eighth, going 1-for-4. Defensively, he he made six putouts, including a play at the plate in the 4th on a wild pitch.
The win improves Mesa to 16-11-1 for the fall, but Salt River also kept pace, winning its fourth straight to keep the margin between the two teams at just a 1/2 game. Surprise finally clinched its berth in the title contest with a win over Scottsdale.
The Solar Sox play in Mesa for two of their three remaining games, rematching against the Javelinas this afternoon, then hosting the Desert Dogs tomorrow. Their final AFL-season game is Thursday in Glendale.
Mesa scored three times in each of the first two innings and cruised to a 9-4 win over Surprise.
Matt Purke got the start and survived a rocky first inning in which southpaw issued a walk then back-to-back singles with two outs before righting the ship with a strikeout. Purke put on a runner in each of his four innings to finish with two runs allowed on five hits and two walks. He struck out three while throwing 71 pitches, 42 for strikes to earn his third “W” of the fall.
Brian Goodwin once again batted second and played centerfield but went just 1-for-5 at the plate. Defensively, he snagged two flyballs.
Steve Souza Jr. made his second allotted appearance of the week. He singled twice, scored twice, and stole his tenth base to push his line to .368/.442/.421. He has hit safely in nine contests and reached base in all ten games he’s played in.
Richie Mirowski also appeared in the game, retiring all six batters he faced in the 7th and 8th innings with two strikeouts. In eight appearances, he’s thrown 11 innings with two runs (both earned) and nine baserunners allowed (7H, 2BB) for a 1.64 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP.
The win keeps pace with second-place Salt River, which remains just a ½ game behind in the AFL East with its third consecutive victory. Surprise still leads the AFL West by 2½ games over second-place Glendale, which has four won straight to stave off elimination from a berth in the AFL Championship game on the 16th.
The Solar Sox have not announced any starters for the final four games, thus leaving open the possibility for Sammy Solis or Purke to start the AFL Championship game should Mesa make it (or either to pitch on Thursday in a do-or-die situation).
With five runs scored early and another solid outing from Sammy Solis, the Solar Sox snapped a three-game skid with a 6-1 win over the Saguaros.
Solis went four and 1/3rd innings, leaving with one out in the 5th after letting up two of the five singles he allowed. He would finish with one run allowed, one walk, and five strikeouts. He threw 74 pitches, 48 for strikes and earned his fourth win.
Kenny Faulk, the first man out of the Mesa ‘pen couldn’t strand both runners, walking the first two batters he faced to force in the lone Surprise run. Adrian Nieto bailed him out with a pickoff at first to squash the rally as the Tigers farmhand got the final out with a flyball to left.
Brian Goodwin and Matt Skole joined Nieto in the starting lineup.
Goodwin continues to blister the ball, going 3-for-4 with a stand-up triple and two RBIs while playing centerfield, where he played error-free and made three putouts.
Skole was the DH but whiffed three times and walked once. He now has 17K’s in 14 games and is hitting .152 (7-for-46) though he’s drawn 14 walks (tied for 3rd) to maintain a respectable .350 on-base percentage.
Nieto singled once — just his third hit against a LHP — and struck out twice in five ABs. He gave up his first passed ball of the fall but had six putouts.
The Solar Sox finish out the week with rematch against the Saguaros this afternoon in Surprise. Matt Purke (2-1, 3.79) is scheduled to make his sixth and perhaps final start, opposed by Cleveland prospect Will Roberts (0-1, 5.31).
Just one Nationals farmhand got into yesterday’s game in the Arizona Fall League, in which the Solar Sox dropped a third straight game, losing 5-4 in 11 innings to Glendale.
Matt Skole batted fourth but went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts to drop his AFL average to .125 (4-for-32) in 13 games. He played first base and handled all ten chances, making nine putouts and one assist.
The loss drops Mesa to 13-11-1, just a ½ game ahead of second-place Salt River. Sammy Solis is scheduled to start this afternoon as the Solar Sox host the Saguaros, who have the AFL’s best record at 16-8 and lead the AFL West by 4½ games with six games left on the slate.
The Desert Dogs scored six unanswered runs in the final two innings to turn a 4-0 deficit into a 6-4 win over the Solar Sox.
Brian Goodwin, Steve Souza, and Robert Benincasa were the three Nationals to see game action.
Goodwin batted second and played centerfield, but went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He plated a run with an RBI groundout in the 3rd. Defensively, he made two putouts.
As usual, Souza made his appearance count. The taxi-squad member was slotted 7th in the lineup and doubled in the 2nd to drive in the first Mesa run and singled in the 4th (pictured), finishing the game at 2-for-4 to raise his average to .364 for the fall. He snared three flyballs while playing right field.
Benincasa, recently featured by Byron Kerr for MASN, worked around a single and a walk to pitch a scoreless 7th inning for the Solar Sox. The appearance lowered his ERA to an even 4.00 (4R in 9IP).
The two teams rematch this afternoon in Glendale. The Salt River Rafters also lost to preserve Mesa’s 1½ game lead in the AFL East and reduce the Solar Sox magic number to clinch a spot in the AFL title game to six with seven games left.
A seven-run 3rd put the Solar Sox up the creek as they were paddled by the Rafters, 7-0 last night in Arizona.
Mesa collected just four singles while committing five errors and hitting into four double plays. Two Nationals position players and one reliever got into the game:
- Matt Skole started at 3B and batted 5th. He singled in three trips to the plate and collected one assist and one putout (both in the 8th inning)
- Adrian Nieto started at C and batted 8th. He also went 1-for-3 and picked off a runner at first base in the 2nd inning. He finished with two assists and seven putouts.
- Richie Mirowski pitched the final two innings, giving up a run on two hits and a walk. He struck out one and threw 35 pitches, 22 for strikes.
With the loss, Mesa’s lead over second-place Salt River returns to 1½ games with eight to play… and no more matchups between the two teams. The Solar Sox host the Desert Dogs this afternoon, then travel to Glendale tomorrow. They return to Mesa on Friday to play against the Surprise Saguaros, which is the next scheduled start for Sammy Solis.