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Cubs prospect Vogelbach heats up for Solar Sox

Mesa collects second straight win; Berti, Kieboom go deep in eighth

After winning just one game in the first week of the Arizona Fall League, Mesa broke out of its slump Wednesday with a victory at Peoria. The Solar Sox built on that success Thursday night, defeating the Javelinas, 6-2, for their second win in a row.

First baseman Dan Vogelbach, the Cubs' No. 10 prospect, has mirrored Mesa's season. He went 1-for-11 with three walks and seven strikeouts in his first four games of the AFL, before collecting two hits and his first RBI on Thursday.

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Vogelbach said he was pressing at the start of the AFL but was able to slow down and take better at-bats. He hit an RBI double in the fourth inning to open the scoring and added a single in the eighth. He finished the night 2-for-4 and scored two runs.

"Early on, I was trying to do too much and not swinging at good pitches," he said. "A combination of that and pitchers here being as good as they are, it's not going to work."

In Mesa's star-studded lineup Thursday, Vogelbach hit behind shortstop Addison Russell, the Cubs' No. 2 prospect. Russell went 1-for-4 and scored twice, perhaps giving the Cubs a glimpse of the future.

Vogelbach and Russell played together on a travel team in high school in Florida. Vogelbach said he is enjoying the opportunity to play with Russell again.

"He's fun to watch and it's even better when you're on his team," Vogelbach said. "He has the 'it' factor that they talk about. He takes good at-bats all the time. When he hits the ball, it's loud. I'm not a pitcher, but think I can speak for them that he's a guy you want at shortstop or second base."

Right-hander Ivan Pineyro threw three scoreless innings to start the game for Mesa and left-hander Chris O'Grady and right-hander Zach Cates kept Peoria off the scoreboard through seven innings. The Javelinas threatened a few times but couldn't come up with a clutch hit to break through.

Vogelbach said the Solar Sox pitching staff showed its moxie.

"When the pitchers get into jams and are able to get out, it shows the competitors in them," he said. "Those are the pitchers you want on your side."

Peoria cut Mesa's lead to 2-1 with a run in the eighth and had the chance to do more damage with runners on second and third, but Mark Sappington got Patrick Leonard to ground out to end the threat. In the bottom of the inning, the Solar Sox scored four runs on home runs from Jon Berti and Spencer Kieboom to put the game away.

The Javelinas' offense was led by right fielder Edward Salcedo and second baseman Jacob Wilson, who both went 3-for-4 with a double.

Peoria's comeback attempt was too late, however, as Mesa's offense found its stroke.

Vogelbach also started slowly during the regular season at Class A Advanced Daytona before turning his season around and helping the Cubs advance to the Florida State League championship series for the second year in a row.

"I didn't start off the way I wanted to," Vogelbach said. "I think I matured as a person and that helped me deal with failure. It taught me how to keep fighting and how to take it day by day, pitch by pitch."

Vogelbach hit .268/.357/.429 with 16 home runs in 132 games with Daytona this year. He said he hopes to build on his second-half success this fall.

"To continue to become better at first base and continue to grow as a person on and off the field," Vogelbach said. "Take what the pitcher gives me and not try to do more in one at-bat than I'm capable of."

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill.