Schoop, Solar Sox rally to earn elusive win
Orioles prospect singles in two to complete Mesa's four-run comeback in seventh
Things haven't exactly gone Mesa's way this Arizona Fall League season. Since winning three of the team's first five games, the Solar Sox had captured only two of their next 15 contests entering Monday night's game against East Division leader Scottsdale.
That didn't matter in the seventh inning, however. The Sox -- comprised of Astros, Cubs, Dodgers, Orioles and Tigers prospects -- scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh frame to push past the Scorpions with a 5-4 victory.
Rubi Silva (Cubs) began the big inning with a one-out triple before Matt Szczur (Cubs), Logan Watkins (Cubs), L.J. Hoes (Orioles) and Jonathan Singleton (Astros) were issued free passes consecutively, the latter two bringing in the game-tying tallies.
Baltimore's No. 3 prospect Jonathan Schoop broke the deadlock -- after an eight-pitch at-bat -- with a two-run single off Scottsdale reliever Dan Runzler (Giants), and Mesa never looked back.
"I just wanted to be as patient as I could up there," said the third baseman. "[Runzler] had just walked three in a row, so I didn't want to go up there swinging too hard. You just want to find a good pitch to hit, and I was successful at that after a while."
The Scorpions threatened with runners on the corners in the top of the ninth, but Astros hurler Chia-Jen Lo was able to hold the line, giving up only one run on a sacrifice fly by Alex Monsalve (Indians).
Schoop thinks that the gutty win shows his team is stronger than its record would seemingly indicate.
"Every time you can come back in any game, it's a sign you're a good team," he said. "Everybody chips in and shows what we're capable of when we can put it all together. ... Wins like this are momentum for the last 10 games. We're trying to win them all, so we have to keep playing hard, be patient, play good defense -- all of that -- if we want to do that."
After finishing 1-for-2 with two RBIs and a walk Monday night, Schoop owns a .300/.470/.500 batting line. He has two homers and nine RBIs in 17 games. His .470 OBP ranks third and his .970 OPS sixth in the AFL thus far. As impressive as those may be when compared to some of the best young players in the Minors, the 21-year-old is just hoping to catch the Orioles' attention with his solid autumn.
"They just wanted me to play baseball as much as I could," Schoop said. "Just play hard. It's the one thing I can do. Just leave the decisions up to them, and they'll make them when they need to."
Schoop and his teammates did struggle against Scorpions right-hander Kyle Kaminska (Pirates) on Monday. The 24-year-old gave up one run on just one hit and three walks over five innings, dropping his AFL ERA to 1.96, fourth-lowest among pitchers with at least four Fall League starts.
"He's got a great sinking two-seamer," Schoop said. "It's a really good pitch. Then he also has a good changeup and slider. A combination like that is tough to hit for us."
Cubs right-hander Nick Struck (1-0) earned the win after striking out two in two hitless innings of relief.
Angels' top prospect Kaleb Cowart went 2-for-3 with two RBIs for the Scorpions. It was the third baseman's first multi-hit game since his Fall League debut on Oct. 10.
Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.