Purke allowed just a one-out walk in the 1st and leadoff single in the 3rd — erasing both baserunners with double-play balls to face the minimum of 15 batters for five frames. The 23-y.o. struck out three while throwing 36 of 54 pitches for strikes. In three starts, Purke is 2-0 with pitcher’s line of 0.00/1.95/0.50 with three walks and 12K’s over 12 innings.
Steve Souza, as usual, made the most of his limited playing time with another monster game: 3-for-4 with a run scored and three (3) stolen bases, which brings his AFL-leading total to nine (9) in just five games. Defensively, the 24-y.o. played centerfield and had one putout.
Matt Skole played third base, but had no defensive chances and saw his modest on-base streak of five games snapped with an 0-for-4 game.
Robert Benincasa couldn’t hold the 1-0 lead in the 9th, giving up a leadoff triple that came in on a passed ball. A single following a strikeout made the run earned. The 23-y.o. closed out the inning with a flyout and a groundout to finish with one run on two hits.
Scottsdale won it in the bottom of the 10th against A’s farmhand Ryan Dull, who gave up two singles and two walks (one intentional) without retiring a batter.
The loss to second-place Scottsdale, which won its fifth straight game, reduced first-place Mesa’s lead to 1½ games. Since starting the season with seven wins and one tie, the Solar Sox have gone 1-4. The two teams will rematch this afternoon in Mesa.
Lee Magenheim sat down with Adrian Nieto and talked about the catcher’s breakthrough 2013 season.
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Steven Souza Jr. (pictured above) connected for a two-run single to erase a 1-0 deficit, highlighting Mesa’a three-run 6th. Souza also walked and played right field, where he made two putouts. Limited to two games a week as a taxi squad player, the 1-for-3 effort pushed his average to .364 (4-for-11) and a walk maintained his .500 on-base pct. Our Arizona correspondent/photographer Lee Magenheim caught up with the 24-y.o. outfielder after the game:
Brian Goodwin and Adrian Nieto also saw game action, with the centerfielder going 1-for-4 with a stolen base from the leadoff spot and the catcher going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts out of the No. 8 slot in the lineup. Goodwin made one putout, while Nieto had an assist and nine putouts.
Richie Mirowski made his second appearance, retiring the side in order in the 7th on ten pitches and finishing off the frame with a strikeout for his second hold.
The win improves Mesa to 6-0-1 and opens up a 4½ game lead in the AFL East. Matt Purke is set to take the hill tonight at home against Peoria.
The Solar Sox remain unbeaten, taking their third straight with a 7-3 decision over the Sagauros in Surprise.
Just two Nationals saw game action: outfielder Steve Souza Jr. and reliever Richie Mirowski.
With no Saturday game this week, taxi-squad player Souza made the most of his playing time on Friday night. He reached base four times (single, double, two walks), scored once, drove in three, and stole three (that’s five in two games). The 24-y.o. batted sixth and played centerfield, but had no defensive chances.
Mirowski made his first AFL appearance in the seventh. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th for the hold and struck out one, throwing 13 pitches (seven for strikes).
Mesa (3-0-1) returns to action on Monday night with a visit to Scottsdale (1-3).
The Solar Sox scored 11 times in their first four turns at bat as they cruised to a 13-3 victory over the Desert Dogs.
Sammy Solis got the start and the win, tossing three and 2/3rds scoreless innings with three hits and a walk allowed. The 25-y.o. southpaw struck out two in his first AFL start since November 2011.
Adrian Nieto got the start behind the plate and went 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored. The 23-y.o. drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and had no baserunners attempt to steal against him.
Steve Souza Jr. started in right field and went 1-for-5, grounding into a double play, but stealing two bases. He made four putouts in the field.
Robert Benincasa pitched the 9th for the Solar Sox but was greeted with a solo HR to the first batter he faced. He retired three of the next four batters he faced, issuing a one-out walk and striking out a batter.
The Solar Sox hit the road tonight as they visit the Salt River Rafters. Matt Purke is scheduled to make the start for Mesa.
Steve Souza, Jr. and Michael Taylor have been named the Player of the Week for the Eastern and Carolina Leagues, respectively, for the week of July 15-21. It’s the second time Taylor has won the award for the Carolina League and the second time a Senator position player has been named (Anthony Rendon, May 6-12).
Souza went 10-for-27 for a .370 batting average and collected four doubles, a triple, and two home runs for an .815 slugging percentage. He drew three walks, scored eight runs and drove in six. For the season, the 24-year-old is posting a line of .282/.382/.560 with 14 home runs and 30 RBI in 62 games. He was a 2013 Eastern League All-Star despite having spent nearly six weeks on the DL. This is Souza’s seventh season in the Nationals organization, originally drafted in 2007 as a third-round pick out of Cascade HS in Everett, WA.
Last night’s 0-fer snapped an eight-game hit streak for Taylor, but the 22-year-old still batted .500 for the week (12-for-24) with five doubles, four runs scored, nine RBI, and three stolen bases. Taylor is currently 3rd in the Carolina League with 61 RBI, and second to teammate Billy Burns with 31 steals. Overall, he’s hitting .275/.343/.434 in 92 games. Taylor was originally drafted in 2009 as a shortstop out of Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, FL but converted to outfield in 2011, where he’s become one of the organization’s best defensive prospects.