Results from the game played Tuesday, October 28th.
Cody Stanley provided the difference as Peoria (6-11-2) edged Mesa 2-1. With the win, the Javelinas moved to within two games of first place in the West Division.
Stanley led his team’s nine-hit attack, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. After flying out and grounding out in his first two at bats, the catcher sent a soft liner into center with one out in the sixth. Stanley was stranded at second after stealing his second bag. The cleanup hitter came up in the eighth inning of a tie game with runners at the corners, none out, and lined the game-winning single into left, scoring right fielder Jordan Smith (CLE). Stanley was the only Peoria player with more than one hit.
C. J. McElroy gave the Javelinas a 1-0 lead in the fifth, reaching base after beating out a soft grounder to first. The left fielder pushed the action by swiping second, his fourth steal, and moving to third on a throwing error by the pitcher. McElroy scored on a 5-3 groundout. The number nine-hittter reached base in the ninth on a missed catch error by the Solar Sox first baseman but was nailed at second trying for his fifth steal.
Jacob Wilson’s slump continued with his 0-for-4 afternoon. Batting seventh, the second baseman was the only Javelinas player to go hitless but participated in two double plays defensively.
AFL Fall Star Sam Tuivailala picked up the win, his first, with a clean seventh. The righty used a 4-6-3 double play to get out of back-to-back free passes. Tuivailala fanned one swinging.
Tuivailala pitched in relief of Dominican Miguel Almonte, who pitched three scoreless frames in his second straight start after three appearances out of the bullpen. The righty walked three and fanned three.
Kansas City right-hander Ali Williams continued the shutout over the next two innings, striking out four before Louis Head (CLE) allowed Mesa (9-8-1) to tie the game on three hits in the sixth.
Oakland right-hander Ryan Doolittle took the loss, yielding the tally in the first of his two-inning stint. It is the first run Doolittle has given up in seven frames over four appearances. Brandon Cunniff (ATL) picked up his first save, erasing a one-out single with a 5-4-3 double play.
Brian Walton’s commentary
Peoria’s original lineup included Justin O’Conner (TB), but the catcher was a late scratch. Stanley, who had been slated to start at first base, donned the catching gear instead with Patrick Leonard (TB) inserted at first.
Cardinals field coordinator Mark DeJohn, once a major league infielder, was in the house. During infield practice, “DJ” worked with Breyvic Valera and Wilson at both short and second along with Stanley at first.
In the game, McElroy did not hit the ball particularly hard, but his speed forced several mistakes noted above. Wilson, on the other hand, did strike the ball with authority a couple of times, but had nothing to show for it. That is how slumps go, sometimes.
Tuivailala’s fastball was between 94 and 97 miles per hour. He did not throw his off-speed offerings often, but on one pitch, Cubs/Mesa first baseman Dan Vogelbach was fooled. In fact, he was fooled so badly that the bat flew out of his hands and landed in the stands on the fly all the way down the first baseline past the dugout. The next pitch was ball four, a reminder that Tui remains an unfinished work.
It was my first visit to new Cubs Park in Mesa, which replaced HoHoKam Park. It seems nice enough, with perhaps the best feature is that it is oriented such that most of the stands are in shade during the afternoon. A replica of the iconic Wrigley Field sign is also a nice touch.
The clubhouses are oddly-situated, however. The Cubs’ (and Mesa’s) are in the organization’s admin building, across a fairly sizable parking lot. I guess the idea is fan-player interaction. Once in the ballpark, players then have to walk down a flight of stairs as well to get into the dugout. The visitors’ dressing area is located deep inside a building situated behind a large berm beyond the left-center fence – another major trek. It almost seems like they built the ballpark before realizing they needed clubhouses.
Wednesday’s game: at first-place Glendale (8-9-1), 12:35 pm MST, Tyrell Jenkins (0-2, 1.35)
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