Towey's walk-off blast sets up key AFL matchup
Halos prospect homers in 11th for Mesa, setting up Peoria-Surprise showdown
After scoring a run in the bottom of the ninth and 10th innings to extend its game against Peoria on Wednesday, Mesa finally reached the end of the line in the 11th. The Solar Sox held the Javelinas scoreless in the top half but needed to score in the bottom of the inning or the game would end in a tie, as mandated by Arizona Fall League rules.
Cal Towey, the Angels' No. 18 prospect, stepped up to the late to lead off the frame against right-hander Mitch Harris. Towey had drawn a pair of walks already and wanted to stick with his approach with the game on the line.
"Just trying to stick with the whole game," he said. "I just wanted to put together a good at-bat for my last at-bat."
Towey did just that, driving the second pitch he saw over the right-field wall for a walk-off home run to give Mesa a 6-5 victory. The loss dropped Peoria into second place in the West Division, a game off the pace of Surprise, which defeated Scottsdale on Wednesday.
Even after the results, the division title comes down to Thursday's game between Peoria and Surprise. With the two teams separated by a game in the standings, their meeting on the final day of the AFL regular season at Surprise Stadium will serve as a division title game to determine which team faces Salt River, the East champion, in Saturday's AFL Championship Game. Watch it live at 3:08 p.m. ET/1:08 MT on MLB Network and MLB.com.
Mesa was eliminated from the East Division race Monday and entered Wednesday on a four-game losing streak. Despite the circumstances, the Solar Sox showed plenty of fight with the game on the line.
Towey said the Solar Sox stayed within themselves and took an aggressive approach with the game on the line.
"Just chipping away and running the bases pretty hard," he said. "Take the extra base to get into scoring position so that a chip shot can score you with one or two outs."
In the ninth, Peoria took the lead when Edward Salcedo led off the inning with a home run off right-hander Austin House. The Solar Sox sent the game to extra innings as they scratched out a run on three singles against right-hander Sam Tuivailala.
The Javelinas pushed back ahead in the 10th. Raul Mondesi, the Royals' top prospect, led off the inning with a double and scored on Cody Stanley's one-out single. But again Mesa answered. Jon Berti started the rally with a one-out single, advanced to second on a fielder's choice and scored when Chad Hinshaw dropped a two-out single into shallow right field, just out of the reach of first baseman Jacob Wilson.
Both teams missed chances to add runs throughout. Peoria went 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position and stranded 17 runners. Mesa didn't fare any better, finishing the game 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 12 runners on base.
Peoria was led by Stanley, the catcher, who went 4-for-6 with two RBIs. Salcedo, the right fielder, went 2-for-5 with three runs and a walk.
Towey, Mesa's first baseman, finished 1-for-4 with two runs. Bijan Rademacher, the right fielder, went 2-for-4 with a solo home run, a walk and four RBIs.
Mesa also benefited from another solid start from right-hander C.J. Edwards. The Cubs' No. 5 prospect worked efficiently, needing only 36 pitches to complete three scoreless innings. He struck out two batters and held the Javelinas to a walk and a hit. Edwards, ranked No. 53 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, will finish the fall with a 1.80 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 15 innings.
Over the course of the fall, Towey said, the Solar Sox learned just how good Edwards can be.
"He's a great pitcher," Towey said. "He pounds the strike zone with any pitch he wants to throw."
Towey said he's enjoyed his time in the AFL and that his biggest improvement has been learning to trust his ability and trust that he'll produce solid results.
"It's been an awesome experience," Towey said. "Just picking the minds of other organizations and other guys you're playing with that are very good. Try to learn from them and take something from each coach that you can put into your own game."