The Mesa Solar Sox at Peoria Javelinas matchup may have been a battle between last place teams, with team ERAs of 6.92 and 4.12 respectively, but an unexpected pitcher’s duel broke out on Thursday.
For the first time in the three games I have seen Pierce Johnson this fall, he finally put in a performance that showed why he is ranked the Chicago Cubs number seven prospects per MLB.com. He worked 89-92 with his fastball, but his slider/cutter was the pitch that really got made him successful on the day. Coming from a low 3/4 arm angle and hiding the ball well, his fastball was able to get on hitters in a hurry and he had very good movement on the breaking ball today. Despite the good day, he did allow four hits and a walk in the first two innings, while allowing just a single base runner in the final three frames he worked.
The closest any team got to scoring early in the game was in the bottom of the second inning when Adrian Marin singled on a liner that dropped just in front of Jake Bauers in left field, but Bauers came up throwing a perfect strike in time to get Chance Sisco at home to end the scoring threat. From there it was a pitcher’s duel.
Lucas Sims worked three innings, allowing just two base runners and striking out four while consistently sitting 93-94 with the fastball and keeping hitters off-balance with a change at 84-85. He was replaced by Tanner Scott in the fourth, who went two innings allowing one hit, one walk, and striking out two. The 6’2” 220 lbs. left hander turned the most heads on the day, mainly with his fastball that was sitting 97 mph and touched 98. He also worked a slider from 83-86 that dove in at right handers feet, causing them to swing over the pitch and look silly at times.
At the plate for the Solar Sox, Cael Brockmeyer was the only player to come through with a multi-hit game, a single and a double, but both hits just found spots where defenders were not. Mark Zagunis went 1-3 while drawing a walk and continuing to impress with strong line drives all over the field, they just happened to find defenders. He came into the day hitting just .270, but he has hit the ball hard all fall. Another player who has been hitting the ball well is Jake Bauers. When he is not throwing guys out at home, he is working the ball to all fields and keeping his hands above the ball, and using decent bat speed to hit the ball hard often, but also has had bad luck, hitting just .212 coming into the game.
For the Javelinas, it was all about Chance Sisco. Sisco did a solid job behind the plate and threw out the only would be base stealer on a perfect throw to get J.T. Riddle in the first inning. He was also the only Javelina to get more than one hit, singling in the second before being thrown out at the plate.
Then in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the score still scoreless, D.J. Peterson drew his second walk of the day, and then Fernando Perez also drew a walk off reliever Austin Brice. Then, Sisco stepped in again and ripped a liner just past diving Solar Sox first baseman, Eric Aguilera, and into right for a walk off double.
With the win, Peoria stays four games back of Surprise, but their elimination number is just two. Meanwhile Mesa falls to 6-19, a .240 win percentage .016 points lower than the 2002 Maryvale Saguaros, who are currently the team with the worst winning percentage in Arizona Fall League history.