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Zagunis' homer proves to be difference in Fall League action

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Mesa Solar Sox offense struggled for five innings, but over the final four frames, Mark Zagunis and the rest of his teammates exploded for 11 runs in an 11-10 victory Wednesday over the Surprise Saguaros.

Zagunis, the Cubs' No. 9 prospect, finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs, including a three-run homer that broke an 8-8 tie in the ninth and proved to be the difference in the game.

"A lot of good pitching, but also a lot of good hitting," Zagunis said. "It kind of went back-and-forth all day. First five innings were pretty clean, good pitching by both starters. Then it went back-and-forth a little bit and [I] just started feeling a little better at the plate toward my third, fourth and last at-bat. Just looked for a good pitch and put a good swing on it."

Wednesday's Arizona Fall League contest featured a little bit of everything as a combined 21 runs were scored on 26 hits and six errors.

Additionally, there were two ejections -- a rare sight in the Fall League -- and a fire alarm went off in the top of the sixth that was blaring in the background during a few at-bats.

But before all the alarms and the offensive outbursts, the game was on track to be a pitchers' duel.

Alex Reyes, the No. 1 prospect in the Cardinals organization, got the start for Surprise and lived up to the hype he's been generating.

The right-hander threw 80 pitches -- 47 strikes -- over four scoreless innings and has now allowed just one run over his first three starts in the Arizona Fall League, a total of 11 2/3 innings.

"He's unbelievable," Zagunis said of Reyes. "He's definitely one of the best arms I've seen since I've been out here and probably ever. He's definitely really impressive."

However, Reyes wasn't the only dominant pitcher on the mound Wednesday.

Miami prospect Jacob Esch started opposite Reyes and also threw four scoreless innings, allowing just four hits as well.

Esch threw 58 pitches -- 36 strikes -- and gave up two runs, only one of which was earned.

Once those two left the game, the bullpens did not have the same success.

Athletics No. 6 prospect Renato Nunez provided Mesa with its first run of the afternoon when he hit a solo homer that kicked off a three-run sixth.

But, Mesa's lead did not last long as Surprise struck for five in the sixth -- two coming via Jurickson Profar's two-run double -- and another in the seventh on a solo homer from Rangers' No. 4 prospect Lewis Brinson.

But the Solar Sox -- led by a pair of Cubs' prospects -- weren't done either.

Jeimer Candelario, who is hitting .424 in the AFL, highlighted a five-run eighth with a two-RBI double and then Zagunis delivered the final blow -- his first homer of the Fall -- with the three-run blast in the ninth.

"I just had a feeling that they were throwing a fastball in and I wasn't going to miss that pitch if they were going to throw it and that's what they threw," Zagunis said. "Just thankful I put a good swing on it."

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