The Grand Canyon Rafters took their first loss of the 2006 AFL season tonight when the Scottsdale Scorpions beat them 3-1 at Surprise Stadium. Unfortunately for Orioles fans, Ryan Keefer took the loss for the home team. Keefer entered the game in the top of the 8th with Grand Canyon clinging to a 1-0 lead. He started off well, fanning David Cook with a 92 MPH fastball after hitting him on the hand, but catching a piece of the bat earlier in the at bat. After that, Keefer couldn't keep his fastball down in the strike zone and he did not escape until six hitters later. All told, he gave up three runs, one unearned. Steve Moss followed Cook in the lineup and smacked a single to left field. The next hitter, Dan Richar, drove Keefer's 92 MPH fastball into right-center between Nolan Reimold and centerfielder Matt Miller. Richar made it into third ahead of a strong throw from Riemold. Andy Gonzales smoked a line drive to left, which Jeff Fiorentino caught and made a terrific throw to home. If it had not been on the dugout side of home, Fiorentino likely would have nailed the tagging Richar. Fiorentino's well-rounded game is gaining attention around the league and this particular effort brought applause from the crowd.
After Vinny Rottino reached first on a line drive single, Keefer got two strikes on Mark Reynolds and tried to pick Rottino off of first base. His fourth attempt went wide of Kevin Richardson's outstretched glove and Rottino made it to third. Reynolds then hit a line drive single to center, scoring Rottino. The inning ended when Adam Donachie threw Reynolds out trying to steal second.
Keefer was throwing his fastball consistently in the low 90's, touching 92 MPH a few times. He just could not keep it down in the strike zone. All told, he gave up four hits and fanned one hitter in his one inning of work. Keefer's ERA stands at 6.00 for the season.
Nick McCurdy followed Keefer and closed the game for the Rafters with a scoreless ninth. McCurdy induced two ground ball outs and a routine fly out to center fielder Miller. McCurdy did an excellent job of mixing in his curveball and changing speeds on his fastball which topped out at 92 MPH. McCurdy has yet to give up an earned run.
Fiorentino started in left and batted third. He finished the evening going 1 for 4 and is now hitting .444. His lone hit was a single off Chris Kinsey. Fio hit the ball well tonight and he used the entire park; hitting several balls to left, including his lone hit of the evening.
Nolan Reimold was in right field again tonight and batted fifth. He went 1 for 3 tonight, his lone hit being a well hit double. Once again he struck out looking, this time on a Billy Sadler 95 MPH fastball. I asked him about the pitch after the game and he told me it was a low and away fastball which he felt was off the plate.
Bryan Bass did not play tonight.
Both Fiorentino and Reimold were hitting the ball well tonight. I got there early and watched batting practice. Reimold was putting on a display. I saw one ball he hit clear the left field bullpen. Fiorentino is playing with a lot of passion and makes no secret that he wants to be in Baltimore next season.
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