Naquin's knock caps Saguaros' big comeback
Go-ahead eighth-inning single extends Indians prospect's hit streak to 11
Midway through the fifth inning Wednesday, Surprise found itself down six runs and getting no-hit by Salt River. But the Saguaros weren't going to go away quietly.
Surprise scored eight runs in the next four innings against the Rafters' bullpen for an 8-6 comeback victory at Surprise Stadium. They have now won five of their last six games.
Surprise scored three runs with two outs in the eighth inning against right-hander Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect, to complete the comeback. Michael Ohlman, who began the rally with a three-run home run in the fifth inning, again got things started in the eighth with a one-out walk. Stroman eventually walked the bases loaded with two outs, bringing Tyler Naquin to the plate.
A wild pitch allowed Ohlman to score, tying the game and advancing the other runners to second and third. Naquin then delivered a two-run single to give Surprise the lead.
Naquin played with Stroman on Team USA in 2011 and knew how good his stuff is, especially his slider.
"I didn't want to get beat with a fastball and I wanted to stay off his slider down [in the zone]," Naquin said. "That last one was a changeup. I put the bat on the ball and a hole was open there for me."
Naquin has had some success putting the bat on the ball so far this fall. The game-winning single extended his hitting streak to 11 games. He finished the game 1-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base.
He said he is aware of his streak, but Naquin isn't letting it change his approach at the plate.
"I'm not thinking about it, because it's going to break at some point, whether it's after 30 games or stops after this game," Naquin said. "It's not my goal. I just want to put myself in the best position to make contact every at-bat."
Ohlman, the Orioles' No. 12 prospect, went 1-for-3 with two runs and a walk. Mookie Betts, the Red Sox's No. 16 prospect, was the lone Saguaros player with multiple hits. He finished the game 2-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base.
While several Saguaros ended up with good offensive days, they couldn't get anything going against Rafters starter Aaron Sanchez. The right-hander, who is ranked No. 20 on MLB.com's Top 100 prospect list, dominated for four innings.
Sanchez didn't allow a hit and struck out four batters Wednesday. In three starts in the AFL, he has allowed just two runs on four hits in nine innings.
With Sanchez putting up zeros on the scoreboard, Salt River jumped out to a six-run lead. The Rafters' offense was led by Kyle Parker and Tim Wheeler, a pair of Rockies prospects. Parker, the team's No. 9 prospect, went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Wheeler, their No. 10 prospect, finished the game 2-for-3 with a three-run home run.
But it wouldn't be enough against the Saguaros. Surprise now has eight wins, tying it with Mesa for the most in the AFL.
Despite their recent hot streak, Naquin said the Saguaros don't see themselves as being in any kind of groove. Instead, they are maintaining a day-by-day mantra, which helped fuel their comeback Wednesday.
"It really does feel in the clubhouse that it's a new day every day," Naquin said. "You can't create that feeling. It either happens or it doesn't."