Hill's two-homer day powers Glendale

Pirates farmhand drives in all four of the Desert Dogs' runs

October 15th, 2017

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Glendale Desert Dogs finished the first week of the Arizona Fall League season with a league-best 4-1 record. For Saturday's win against the Mesa Solar Sox, their fourth victory in a row, the Desert Dogs have Pirates outfielder Logan Hill to thank. Hill hit a pair of homers, driving in all four Glendale runs en route to a 4-3 victory.

The Desert Dogs put a pair of runners on in the first against Mesa starter Logan Shore (Athletics No. 8 prospect), but Shore got Dodgers infielder Matt Beaty to ground into a double play to get out of trouble. When a pair of Dodgers, outfielder Yusniel Diaz and catcher Will Smith, singled to open the bottom of the second, Hill made sure not to let Shore escape unscathed. The right-hander hung a slider and Hill drilled it out to left-center field.

"I just went up there trying to have an aggressive mentality, knowing he was going to try and get ahead," Hill said. "He really hung that one over the middle for me and I was ready to hit."

Indians lefty Sean Brady did his part to make that lead stand up. The Desert Dogs' starter gave up just one hit and a walk over three scoreless innings. He struck out five along the way and only one ball, Athletics No. 11 prospect Sean Murphy's single to left in the second, left the infield.

It remained 3-0 until the top of the sixth, when Indians right-hander Argenis Angulo had trouble finding the strike zone. A's third baseman started the rally with a one-out single and moved to second when Murphy walked. Astros first baseman Yordan Alvarez singled to load the bases, then Angulo walked Cubs catcher Ian Rice to force in a run. One out later, Angulo issued another free pass, to Tigers outfielder Cam Gibson, to make it 3-2.

Cubs second baseman David Bote tied it leading off the next inning, taking a 3-1 offering from White Sox right-hander Matt Foster the other way and over the right-center-field fence. That set the stage for Hill to come through again.

In the bottom of that inning, Hill led off against Astros right-hander . With what Hill described as a funky delivery, McCurry went outside with his first two offerings, fastballs that ran the count to 1-1. McCurry then went to his offspeed stuff and Hill figured him out.

"He hung me a changeup that I pulled into the dugout," Hill explained. "Then he went curveball up and tried to go back to the changeup. The second time seeing it, it was almost in the same spot, so I got through that one."

That changeup landed over the right-center-field fence to give Glendale a one-run lead that held. It's also a sign that Hill might be starting to get locked in. The outfielder had gone 1-for-7 with four strikeouts in his first two games, somewhat understandable since the last competitive pitch he saw was the one that broke his left hand in late July.

"I'm about 10 weeks removed from this level of pitching when I was in Double-A when I got hurt," Hill said. "It's real nice to get out here and have some success against the upper-level guys. That's who you want to compete against.

"I kept working with my hitting coaches, getting better every single day, getting back to trusting things, trusting the hands. Today, something just clicked, so we're just going to keep doing what we're doing."

And he hopes the Desert Dogs keep doing what they're doing. The AFL's primary focus might be development, but those who participate want to win, too. So far, Hill likes what he's seeing from his new teammates.

"We're having a lot of fun already," Hill said. "It didn't take us long to really jell. Everybody's having a lot of fun, joking around with each other. It's like we've been together for a season."