Mesa beats Surprise 6-1 for first AFL Championship since 2003, Ian Happ goes 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs in victory
The Mesa Solar Sox and Surprise Saguaros squared off in the Arizona Fall League Championship Game on Saturday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium. Mesa jumped out to an early lead on a three-run homer from Brian Anderson (Marlins) and never looked back. Ian Happ (Cubs) hit a pair of homers for Mesa’s other three runs and put the game in the hands of the pitching staff.
The Solar Sox received excellent pitching from Dylan Covey (A’s), Frankie Montas (A’s) and James Farris (Cubs). Mesa held Surprise to one run on just two hits and the Solar Sox celebrated their first AFL Championship in 13 years in the finale of the 25th Season of the Arizona Fall League.
The Solar Sox pounded out 10 hits, four for extra bases, and beat the Saguaros in a game that was not as close as the final score indicates. Mesa was in control from the first inning and cruised to the championship.
Dylan Covey set the tone for the afternoon. The A’s prospect did not allow a hit until the fifth inning, a one-out single to left. Covey gave up just one run on one hit and a walk while striking out three in five innings.
Brian Anderson (2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI) gave the Solar Sox a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Greg Allen (1-for-4 with a run scored) singled with one out. Ian Happ (4-for-4 with a double, two home runs, three runs scored and three RBI) followed with a single to right. And with runners on the corners and one down, Anderson launched the first pitch from Eric Stout (Royals) over the left field wall … 3-0 Mesa.
Ian Happ gave the Solar Sox a 5-0 lead with a two-run shot in the third inning.
And Happ capped Mesa’s scoring with his second longball of the day, an opposite field shot leading off the seventh inning.
Frankie Montas tossed three innings of scoreless ball in relief of Covey. Montas turned the game over to James Farris in the ninth with the Solar Sox leading by five runs.
Farris pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to nail down the championship for the Solar Sox. A Cubs pitcher was on the mound to win a title for the fourth time this year.
Ian Happ had a terrific day at the plate and in the field. Happ hit third and played left field. Happ made an excellent catch in left field to rob an extra basehit from Mitch Garver in the fourth. Offensively is where Happ shined in the Arizona sun on Saturday in Scottsdale.
Happ had four hits on the day, two home runs and a double. Happ scored three runs, had three RBI and collected hits from both sides of the plate. And his home runs, one was left-handed and the other was right-handed in the seventh inning.
Eloy Jimenez (0-for-4) was the Solar Sox’s DH and hit seventh. Jimenez looked wiped out physically. Jimenez’s bat was very slow and he looked like a 19-year old at the end of a long season in what was his first year of full-season baseball.
The Cubs organization has won three championships this year and had its hands in a fourth … The World Series, The Mills Cup Championship (Myrtle Beach, Carolina League), the Northwest League (Eugene Emeralds) and the Arizona Fall League (Mesa Solar Sox).