AFL Wednesday – Desert Dogs 7, Scorpions 6

Brian Walton reports on Cardinals prospects in Arizona Fall League action.

Baseball is not over yet. The Arizona Fall League is in full swing. I attended the Surprise Scorpions game Wednesday afternoon and as I am typing this, the Peoria Javelinas and Peoria Saguaros are taking batting practice.

 

At home this afternoon, the Scorpions were edged by the Phoenix Desert Dogs by a 7-6 score. For my first game this fall, Manager Ron "Pop" Warner, provided a treat. All three Cardinals position players were in today's lineup, hitting sixth (third baseman Travis Hanson), seventh (left fielder Cody Haerther) and eighth (catcher Gabe Johnson). None of the four Redbirds hurlers appeared.

 

There was plenty of action, with a boatload of stolen bases, a couple of runners thrown out, a controversial call that cost the Scorpions two runs as well as a player ejection. Whew!

 

Here's a shorthand version of how it went.

 

Dogs first. Johnson was busy with two defensive plays. He caught a foul popup and then dashed to the screen to retrieve a wild pitch, sliding on his shin guards and firing a perfect strike to third to hold the runner to one base.

 

Scorpions first. Kansas City's Alex Gordon drove in the first Scorpions tally on a ground rule double to deepest center. Hanson came up with a runner on third and two out. He hit a fly to center on the first pitch.

 

Dogs second. After a couple of doubles to tie the game, Johnson got into the middle of the action again. Another wild pitch; another Johnson slide into the screen; another bullet to Hanson at third. With the runner coming in, it looked as if the throw was on time, but the Scorpions didn't get the call. Hanson protested mildly. The Dogs' (and Arizona property) Stephen Drew (yes, that same clan) took three called strikes and didn't like it one bit.

 

Scorpions second. Haerther led off with a walk. He was out stealing at second on a high tag. As he returned to the dugout, Haerther asked Warner twice "Did he? Did he get the tag?" Two outs later, he was back discussing the play with Warner again. Johnson followed with a walk, took third on a single and scored on another to give the Scorpions a 2-1 lead. Warner is managing aggressively.

 

After another score, a really weird play occurred. Scorpion DH Corey Smith was hit by a pitch on the hands, but ran toward first, apparently unsure of the call as to whether the ump would call a hit by pitch or that the ball hit the bat and it was in play. When the catcher threw wildly past first, two Scorpions scored. However, the home plate ump ruled HBP and two runs were taken off the board. It would be the margin between victory and defeat this day.

 

Dogs third. James Loney took three called strikes. Remember that name.

 

Scorpions third. Hanson led off, popping out to second base on a 3-1 count. Haerther ground out 4-3 on his first offering. Johnson followed with a line-drive solo home run to left center between the 379 and 400 feet signs. The next Scorpion also homered, making the lead 5-1.

 

Dogs fourth. Another ball in the dirt and another Johnson slide. Two runners moved up this time. Unfortunately, Alex Frazier's (Arizona) three-run homer closed most of the gap. This inning was Haerther's, as he leapt to try to bring back Frazier's shot. One batter later, he raced back in chase of Dodgers' Matt Kemp's shot. Haerther leapt, but couldn't bring the ball down as he crashed into the wall at the 379 foot mark. It would have been tough, but looked to be catchable.

 

The next play was another bizarre one as Loney took a called strike three. When he dropped his bat on the plate as it if was on fire, the home plate umpire ejected Loney. No one could believe it. As far I as could tell, Loney said nothing.

 

Scorpions fourth. Former Card Daric Barton was part of a Dogs double switch, taking over at first base. Hanson came up with two outs and runners on the corners. After two home run-length foul balls down the left field line, he grounded out sharply to Barton.

 

Scorpions fifth. Haerther led off with a strikeout. Johnson was out 5-3.

 

Dogs seventh. Haerther pulled down a Barton liner on the track in left center. Johnson threw out Kemp trying to steal second base.

 

Scorpions seventh. Hanson came up with one out. On a 3-1 count, he ground out 4-3. Haerther had the same result on a 2-2 count to end the inning.

 

Dogs eighth. A double, triple and a ground out gave the Desert Dogs a 7-5 lead.

 

Scorpions eighth. Johnson led off and shot a 2-0 bloop single down the first base line for a single. He was stranded.

 

Dogs eighth. Haerther was busy again, catching a Drew fly ball, but didn't catch Kemp's double after making an awkward leap on a ball that bounced off the wall.

 

Scorpions ninth. The Cards three have a change to win the game. Against Casey Daigle, Hanson shot a one out RBI double into the right center gap to close the lead to one run, but Haerther flied out to center. Johnson was pinch-hit for, and Royal Matt Tupman was retired to end the contest on a losing note.

 

Hanson – 1-for-5 with a double, RBI

Haerther – 0-for-4 with a walk

Johnson – 2-for-3 with a walk, home run, RBI

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

 


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