Byron Buxton thought he had won the game Tuesday afternoon. Glendale and Surprise were tied at 5 and the Desert Dogs had loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning, bringing Buxton, baseball's top prospect, to the plate.
Buxton lofted a fly ball to center fielder Tyler Naquin for what appeared to be a game-winning sacrifice fly. But third-base umpire Stu Scheurwater ruled that Travis Mattair left third base before the ball was caught, negating the run.
The game remained knotted after the 11th inning when, by Arizona Fall League rules, it was declared a 5-5 tie. It was the second tie of the fall, as Glendale and Mesa played an 8-8 game on Opening Day.
Despite being denied the game-winning RBI, Buxton still had an impressive day at the plate. He hit a two-run home run in the first inning and finished the day 2-for-5 with two runs.
Buxton was playing in his fourth game since returning from a shoulder strain that kept him out for a week.
"I feel all right," Buxton said. "I'm just trying to take it one day at a time. I'm not trying to overdo it."
Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, is completing his first full professional season. He is the fourth-youngest player in the AFL and has held his own against the older competition. He is hitting .231 with a .487 slugging percentage in nine games.
Buxton has yet to play a game above Class A Advanced and said the pitching in the AFL has been much more advanced than what he saw this season.
"I've picked up a little bit more discipline, a little bit more patience," Buxton said. "The pitching is a whole lot better out here, because they have more than two pitches to fall back on."
All of the Desert Dogs' runs came via the home run Tuesday. Buxton wasted no time in getting things started, homering off right-hander Will Roberts' sixth pitch of the game. Jared Mitchell added another run with a leadoff blast in the second inning and Corey Seager hit a two-out, two-run homer in the sixth inning, his first of the fall.
Mitchell, the White Sox No. 10 prospect, finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Seager, the Dodgers' No. 2 prospect, went 2-for-5.
Glendale got another good start from left-hander Andrew Heaney, the Marlins' No. 2 prospect. He struck out five batters in four scoreless innings.
But once Heaney was out of the game, the Saguaros joined the Desert Dogs in playing home run derby. Surprise hit a pair of two-run home runs in the fifth inning off reliever Zach Jones. Henry Urrutia struck first with a drive to left field. Two batters later, Brett Nicholas hit his first home run of the fall.
They tied the game with a two-out rally in the eighth inning against left-hander Edgar Olmos. Tony Wolters began the rally with a single and was driven in by Adam Weisenburger.
The last threat either team mounted was Glendale's chance in the ninth inning. Buxton's potential game-winner was thwarted, but he said he is having fun in the AFL.
As he nears the end of his season, Buxton said he is still trying to improve in the final few weeks. He wants to keep working on his baserunning and outfield routes. In the offseason, he said he plans to put on some weight.
But for now, as he looks back at his first full season in the Minor Leagues, he is pleased with how it went.
"I feel like I played pretty good," Buxton said. "I got a lot of accolades and I'm just thankful to be receiving them. I'm out here having fun."