Solar Sox score seven in third frame, push win streak to five games
C.J. Cron has leveraged his prodigious power to hit some towering home runs in his career. He has hit 56 homers as a professional, and he calls his walk-off grand slam last year for Class A Advanced Inland Empire the most memorable.
For a player with his reputation for power, Cron's first home run in the Arizona Fall League was appropriately mammoth. Facing Scottsdale starter Aaron Northcraft in the third inning Tuesday, Cron blasted a three-run home run off the scoreboard in left field, a drive of more than 400 feet.
Cron's home run sparked a seven-run inning for Mesa, and the Solar Sox went on to a 7-4 victory at HoHoKam Stadium. The victory was Mesa's second against Scottsdale in as many days and extended its winning streak to five games.
The Solar Sox did all their damage in the third inning. Northcraft began the inning by walking the first two batters on eight pitches, bringing Cron to the plate with no outs.
Cron said he could tell Northcraft, the Braves' No. 10 prospect, was struggling, and Cron wanted to make sure he waited for a good pitch.
"I got ahead 2-1 and I was ready to hit," said Cron, the Angels' No. 2 prospect. "I got the barrel on it and it went out."
Mesa's rally wasn't over yet as Matt Skole followed with a double. Northcraft recovered to record two outs, but he was relieved by right-hander Matt Benedict after issuing a two-out walk.
Benedict hit a batter to load the bases and then induced a ground ball. But an error by shortstop Alen Hanson allowed a run to score and the inning to continue. Albert Almora made the Scorpions pay for the mistake with a ground-rule double that drove in two runs.
Benedict got the next batter to end the inning, but not before the Solar Sox sent 11 batters to the plate and plated seven runs.
"We've just got a really potent lineup," Cron said. "One to nine, there's really no holes at all. Early this year it's been working really well for us."
Tuesday was another collective offensive effort for the Solar Sox, who are averaging 8.33 runs per game. Almora was the only player to record multiple hits for Mesa. The Cubs' No. 2 prospect went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a walk.
Scottsdale's offense was led by Angel Villalona, who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. But the Scorpions were largely held in check by the Solar Sox pitching staff.
Left-hander Sammy Solis, the Nationals' No. 11 prospect, struck out eight batters and allowed one run on three hits in four innings. Cory Vaughn hit a home run in the fourth inning for the Scorpions' only run off Solis.
The decisive home run, however, belonged to a hometown favorite. Cron grew up in Phoenix, about 20 minutes from HoHoKam Stadium. He said many of his friends have been able to come to his games this fall. Tuesday, both his mother and father were in the stands to see his latest home run.
Cron said he is enjoying the homecoming, but he is still working to improve this fall.
"I want to refine my swing and get better defensively," Cron said. "I want to play more baseball and have fun with the guys."