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MVP Acuna, Braves mates propel Peoria to title

MLB.com @wboor

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The contingent of Atlanta prospects garnered plenty of attention throughout the Arizona Fall League season, so it's only appropriate that the Braves led the way in the most important game of the fall.

Ronald Acuna and Alex Jackson combined to go 4-for-8 with six RBIs as Peoria claimed the AFL Championship with an 8-2 win over Mesa on Saturday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium.

Full Game Coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The contingent of Atlanta prospects garnered plenty of attention throughout the Arizona Fall League season, so it's only appropriate that the Braves led the way in the most important game of the fall.

Ronald Acuna and Alex Jackson combined to go 4-for-8 with six RBIs as Peoria claimed the AFL Championship with an 8-2 win over Mesa on Saturday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium.

Full Game Coverage

:: 2017 Arizona Fall League championship game coverage ::

"The best thing that can happen to any player -- either big leagues or Minor Leagues -- is to win the championship, and that's what we were looking for from the beginning," Acuna said through translator Yoel Monzon. "We competed and praise God, we got the championship."

The Javelinas, who finished the regular season 18-12 and champions of the West division, fell behind early, but the offense, which led the league with a .281 average, came through with eight runs on nine hits.

"Whether they come out swinging hard or put some runs on the board, we're confident we can stick in it," said Austin Riley, the Braves' No. 10 prospect. "After that first inning there wasn't even a thought into our head that we weren't going to come back, put the ball in play, make things happen and we were able to."

Acuna (Braves' No. 1, MLB No. 5), who was presented with the league's MVP trophy prior to the game, went two-for-four with four RBIs while Jackson (Braves' No. 16) finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs of his own.

Luis Urias (Padres' No. 3, MLB No. 48) put the Javelinas on the board with a sacrifice fly in the second, and the Braves duo did the rest, putting up crooked numbers in each of the next two frames.

Acuna tied things up with an RBI single in the third and two batters later, Jackson gave the Javelinas the lead with a two-run single of his own.

Video: MSS@PEO: Jackson singles in two, puts Peoria ahead

"I always go looking for a fastball and eventually I was able to hit the ball hard and get a base hit and bring the runs in," Acuna said.

Riley also got in on the fun with his glove, making an impressive play at third in the top of the fifth.

Video: MSS@PEO: Riley shows off quick reflexes at third

While Atlanta prospects stole the show in the lineup, Peoria right-hander T.J. Zeuch (Blue Jays' No. 5) put together a strong performance on the mound after a bumpy start.

Sheldon Neuse (Athletics' No. 14), who drove in 23 runs in 22 games during the AFL season, highlighted Mesa's two-run first with an RBI single.

Video: MSS@PEO: Neuse puts Mesa on the board with a single

However, after that first frame, the Solar Sox posted nothing but zeros against Zeuch.

"He came in the dugout and said, 'Hey, we're done. Hey, we're going to get right back at it,'" Jackson said. "That just shows how much of a competitor he is and how confident he is in his stuff. It was unreal to see the next couple innings."

The right-hander, who posted a 3.44 ERA in six games (five starts) during the AFL season, retired nine of the final 12 batters he faced and threw 49 of his 70 pitches for strikes over 5 2/3 innings. He gave up eight hits and struck out two.

Once Zeuch left the game, the Peoria bullpen picked up right where he left off and the Javelinas cruised to the title.

Video: Peoria claims 2017 Arizona Fall League Championship

"Winning a championship is always a blast," Jackson said. "We're going to enjoy it. We worked hard and it definitely paid off."

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.