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Perfect Piscotty carries Rafters in comeback win

Trailing Surprise by a run in the sixth inning Monday, Salt River mounted a comeback against right-hander Ryan Harvey. Singles by Jake Lamb and Tim Wheeler brought Stephen Piscotty to the plate with one out in the inning.

Piscotty rose to the occasion with an RBI single to tie the game and advance Wheeler to third base. Two pitches later, Wheeler scored on a wild pitch.

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The brief rally would prove to be the difference as Salt River held on for a 3-2 victory on Monday at Surprise Stadium. Piscotty went 4-for-4 with a stolen base to lead the Rafters.

"I love hitting with guys on base," Piscotty said. "I think I hit a slider. I didn't try to do too much with it and luckily found a hole. That was a good inning for us."

Piscotty's big game came after a disappointing first week in the Arizona Fall League for the Cardinals' No. 7 prospect. In three games last week, Piscotty went 1-for-11 with six strikeouts. He said after not facing living pitching in a few weeks, it took some time to get back his timing at the plate.

"I felt a little bit late getting my foot down last week," Piscotty said. "I had to stick with my mechanics and slow the game down and get a good pitch to hit. It was more of a timing thing."

Piscotty and the rest of the hitters didn't have an easy task Monday. Starting pitchers Taylor Jungmann, the Brewers' No. 2 prospect, and Drew Hutchison, the Blue Jays' right-hander recovering from Tommy John surgery, set the tone of the game. The two teams combined to use 13 pitchers, all of whom contributed to making it the lowest-scoring AFL game of the season.

Jungmann threw three shutout innings for Surprise. He allowed two hits and struck out four batters.

"He's a hard thrower who's got some sink," Piscotty said. "That's a tough combination. I thought we did good job working tough at bats against him. We didn't score, but I thought we carried that over to their other pitchers."

Hutchison pitched well for Salt River, giving up two unearned runs in 2 2/3 innings. He struck out two batters and allowed three hits.

Surprise took an early 2-0 lead in the third inning. A throwing error by shortstop Nick Ahmed helped the Saguaros load the bases and force Hutchison out of the game. First baseman Travis Shaw drove in both runs with a bases-loaded, two-out single off left-hander Andrew Chafin, the D-backs' No. 8 prospect and his former teammate at Kent State.

The Saguaros couldn't get any more runs. Third baseman Garin Cecchini, the Red Sox's No. 7 prospect, was the only Saguaros player to record multiple hits. He went 2-for-4 with a walk, breaking an 0-for-8 skid entering the night.

But it was Piscotty who was able to leverage his slump-breaking game into a victory. Now that he feels comfortable again at the plate, Piscotty said he is working to improve his defense. He moved from the infield to right field this season and he said it has been his goal all season to improve as an outfielder.

"I don't want to be a liability out there," Piscotty said. "I want to be a plus outfielder. My main focus is defense right now."

Salt River Rafters, Surprise Saguaros, Garin Cecchini, Drew Hutchison, Taylor Jungmann, Stephen Piscotty, Travis Shaw, Tim Wheeler