Wendle's triple leads Saguaros over Solar Sox
Indians prospects contribute to late comeback against league leaders
With Surprise trailing Mesa by a run in the seventh inning, Joe Wendle found himself behind in the count, 1-2. He had just swung through two sliders from left-hander Omar Duran, but when he got a fastball up and out over the plate, he knew what to do with it.
Wendle drove the ball to right field and raced around the bases for a two-run triple. Tyler Naquin, the Indians' No. 5 prospect, drove him in one batter later to complete Surprise's three-run seventh. It would be all the Saguaros would need Tuesday, as they held on to defeat the Solar Sox, 4-2, at Surprise Stadium.
Wendle finished the game 1-for-3. He said he was just trying to get the bat on the ball after Duran had fooled him with those back-to-back sliders.
"He made me look pretty stupid on two offspeed pitches early in count," Wendle said. "I got a ball up in zone and was able to drive it into the gap."
While Ryan Rua, a Rangers farmhand, drew a one-out walk to start the Saguaros' rally, three Indians prospects took over to complete the comeback. Tony Wolters, the Indians' No. 11 prospect, followed Rua with a walk before Wendle's triple and Naquin's single.
Wolters, Wendle and Naquin all spent most of the season in Class A Advanced Carolina and are all living together while they're playing in the Arizona Fall League. After spending so much time together, they have developed a close bond.
"I've played with those guys all year and they're both excellent players," Wendle said. "To have success like we did in the seventh is a lot of fun."
Naquin continued his strong performance in the AFL, going 2-for-3 with a run and a stolen base Tuesday. He is batting .375 and has a 10-game hitting streak.
Surprise's comeback was made possible by a strong effort by its pitching staff. Led by starter Eduardo Rodriguez, six pitchers combined to hold Mesa to just two runs on seven hits.
Rodriguez, ranked No. 84 on MLB.com's Top 100 prospect list, allowed one run on one hit in three innings. The left-hander struck out three batters and walked two.
"He battled today, definitely," Wendle said. "He gave us three strong innings and kept us right in the ballgame. Against that team with their higher-power offense, that's something to say."
The Solar Sox have the AFL's highest-scoring offense, but they were stymied Tuesday. They had no extra-base hits and left eight runners on base. Third baseman Kris Bryant, the Cubs' No. 4 prospect, went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead the Solar Sox.
Mesa has now lost three of four games since starting the season 7-0. Two of those losses have come against Surprise.
Wendle said he is enjoying competing against the Solar Sox and all the other top prospects in the AFL.
"You've got the best players from every organization out here," Wendle said. "It's fun to go head to head with them. Everybody's giving it their all out here."