The Solar Sox Strikeout in the AFL Championship Game – Surprise 2, Mesa 0

Arizona Fall League Championship Game – Mesa Solar Sox 0, Surprise Saguaros 2

WP – Eduardo Rodriguez (1-1) LP – Dallas Beeler (4-2) Save – David Goforth (1)

The Solar Sox came out on the short end of the 22nd annual Arizona Fall League Championship game on Saturday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium. The game ended with a surprising shutout for the first time in the history of the AFL Championship game.

The Surprise pitching staff dominated the powerful Mesa lineup and held the Solar Sox to just five singles and one walk. Eduardo Rodriguez set the tone for the afternoon and the entire Saguaros’ staff pitched Mesa backwards throughout the game. There was a lot of first pitch breaking balls which led to Mesa going down swinging 11 times.

Dallas Beeler was hung with the loss after allowing just one run on two hits in five innings. Beeler gave up a two-out double to the Orioles’ Henry Urrutia in the second then a run scoring single to Jorge Alfaro. Beeler walked only one batter, struck out five and threw 56 pitches, 38 for strikes.

On the day he was named MVP of the Arizona Fall League, Kris Bryant had a rough afternoon at the plate. Bryant went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and fouled out in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and Mesa down by a run at the time.

Jorge Soler was 0-for-3 in the game with a strikeout, a lineout and a groundout.

The other Cubs’ prospects on the Mesa Solar Sox roster (Albert Almora, Wes Darvill, Lendy Castillo, Armando Rivero and Matt Loosen) did not participate in Saturday’s Championship game.

The A’s Addison Russell led off the game by grounding out to short (1-2 pitch). Devon Travis followed with a single to left center on a 1-2 offering from Eduardo Rodriguez. Kris Bryant stepped in and struck out swinging (1-2) on the fifth pitch of the at bat. C.J. Cron also struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning. Eduardo Rodriguez threw 20 pitches, 15 for strikes, in the first inning.

Dallas Beeler took the hill for the bottom of the first. The Tigers’ Devon Travis made an excellent play on a ball hit back up the middle then a solid one hop throw to first to nail Tyler Naquin. Beeler retired Mookie Betts on a routine grounder to Travis and struck out Garin Cecchini swinging (1-2 pitch) to end the inning. Beeler retired the side in order on 10 pitches, seven for strikes. Beeler kept the ball down, which is his game, and picked up a rare strikeout.

Steven Souza led off the second by rapping the first pitch he saw into centerfield. Taylor Lindsey struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) on another excellent slider by Rodriguez. Jorge Soler stepped in and Jorge Alfaro threw out Souza trying to swipe second on a 0-1 offering to Soler. Soler worked a 2-2 count before chopping the sixth pitch of the at bat back up the middle. Betts fielded the ball behind the second base bag and tossed him out to end the inning … 32 pitches, 23 for strikes, for Rodriguez after two innings.

Travis Shaw lined Beeler’s first pitch of the second inning to Devon Travis (second base) to start the inning. Beeler struck out Mitch Haniger swinging for the second out. The Orioles’ Henry Urrutia drove Beeler’s first pitch over Souza’s head in center. The ball one-hopped the wall and Urrutia ended up at second with a two-out double. Jorge Alfaro ripped a single into left center. Souza’s throw was up the third baseline and Urrutia slid in safe but Jett Bandy threw out Alfaro trying to advance to second to end the inning. Beeler threw 20 pitches, 14 for strikes, over the first two innings.

The Saguaros took a 1-0 lead into the third inning.

Eduardo Rodriguez retired Collins (struck out swinging), Bandy (grounded out to third) and Russell (flied out to right center) in order in the third. Rodriguez threw 42 pitches, 30 for strikes, in three scoreless, two-hit innings.

Dallas Beeler pitched a 1-2-3 third inning. Jonathan Schoop flied out to Soler in right for the first out. Beeler picked up his third strikeout when Joe Wendle swung over the top of a 1-2 pitch. Tyler Naquin flied out to left center to end the inning. Beeler threw 31 pitches, 21 for strikes, over three innings of work.

The Brewers’ Tyler Cravy replaced Rodriguez for the fourth inning. Devon Travis led off with a single to left (0-1 pitch). Kris Bryant looked at a 0-2 pitch for the first out. Travis took off for second on the first pitch to Cron and Alfaro gunned him out. Cron popped a 2-1 pitch into center to end the inning.

Dallas Beeler stayed in for the fourth and worked his way out of a jam without allowing Surprise to add on. Mookie Betts reached on an error by Addison Russell to start the inning. Beeler then issued a four-pitch walk to Garin Cecchini. Beeler struck out Shaw swinging (foul tip) on a 2-2 offering for the first out. With runners on first and second with one down, Beeler caught Mitch Haniger looking for the second out. Henry Urrutia grounded out to Travis at second to end the inning. Beeler needed 42 pitches, 31 for strikes, to complete four innings.

Surprise took a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning.

Tyler Cravy stayed in for the fifth and retired Mesa in order … Souza lined out to left, Lindsey struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) and Jorge Soler lined out to left (2-1 pitch).

Dallas Beeler retired the side in order in the fifth … Alfaro grounded out to short, Schoop popped out to second and Wendle grounded out to second. Beeler threw 56 pitches, 38 for strikes, over five innings.

Mesa trailed 1-0 going into the sixth inning.

The Orioles’ lefty, Tim Berry, took over for Surprise in the sixth. Tyler Collins lined out to second (3-2 pitch) for the first out. Jett Bandy worked a walk (3-2 pitch). Addison Russell followed with a single to center and Mesa had two on with one down. Devon Travis tapped a 1-0 pitch to the first base side of the mound. Berry fielded the ball but dropped it on the exchange. Mesa loaded the bases with one down and Bryant and Cron due up.

Kris Bryant took the first two pitches. After a mound visit, Berry jammed Bryant and he fouled out to Shaw at first base, near the dugout, for the second out. C.J. Cron struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Oakland’s Jeff Urlaub replaced Beeler for the bottom of the sixth inning. Naquin reached on Russell’s second error of the game. Naquin hit a routine grounder to short, Russell rushed his throw and Cron could not scoop the low throw. Urlaub picked off Naquin from first base after Urlaub missed on his first offering to Betts. Urlaub walked Betts on four pitches. Garin Cecchini fell behind 1-2 before Urlaub picked off Betts from first base … two pickoffs by the southpaw in the same inning on back-to-back baserunners. Cecchini hit a routine fly into center to end the inning.

Surprise took a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning.

Noe Ramirez of the Red Sox took over in the seventh for Surprise. Souza struck out swinging (check swing) to start the inning. Taylor Lindsey blooped Ramirez’s first pitch toward the line in left. Urrutia lumbered in but could not make the catch. Lindsey held at first with a single. Jorge Soler stepped in and worked a 3-1 pitch before taking a strike. Soler expanded his zone and struck out swinging on a slider in the dirt. Alfaro could not block the ball and Lindsey ended up at second on the wild pitch. Ramirez struck out Tyler Collins swinging to end the inning.

The game went to the bottom of the seventh with Mesa down 1-0.

Jeff Urlaub stayed in for the seventh and retired Shaw (flied out to left) and Haniger (flied out to right) for the first two outs. Henry Urrutia drove Urlaub’s first pitch to deep right center. The ball hit on the track and hopped over the wall for a ground rule double … Surprise’s first hit since the second inning. Alfaro grounded out to Bryant at third to end the inning.

Keone Kela started the eighth for Surprise and retired the side in order. Pinch-hitter Brian Goodwin grounded out to short (3-2 pitch), Addison Russell grounded out to second (0-2 pitch) and Travis popped a 2-1 pitch to Betts in shallow right to end the inning.

The Tigers’ hard throwing right hander Corey Knebel took over for Mesa in the bottom of the eighth. Jonathan Schoop singled to left on Knebel’s first pitch. Wendle bunted a 2-0 pitch to Cron, Schoop advanced to second with one down. A wild pitch on the first offering to Naquin allowed Schoop to advance to third. Knebel fell behind Naquin 3-0 before issuing ball four intentionally. With runners on the corners and one down, Mookie Betts lined a 3-2 pitch into right center. Schoop scored, 2-0 Surprise.

Mesa’s skipper, Bill Richardson, made the slow walk and replaced Knebel with Mike Morin. The Red Sox’s Garin Cecchini stepped in with runners on first and second and only one out. Addison Russell made a diving, tumbling, over the shoulder catch in shallow left center to take away a hit from Cecchini for the second out. Shaw popped a 2-2 pitch to Bryant in foul ground to end the inning.

The AFL Championship game went to the ninth with Mesa down 2-0.

Kris Bryant flied out to left on a 0-1 pitch from the Brewers’ David Goforth for the first out in the ninth. C.J. Cron flied out to left center and Steven Souza Jr. struck out looking (3-2 pitch) to end the game.

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