Rafters rally late, cling to East Division lead
Visiting Salt River posts five-run eighth inning to top Peoria
If anyone thought winning a Winter League crown didn't mean much to the boys of summer, the Arizona Fall League's Salt River Rafters put that notion to rest Thursday afternoon.
The Rafters posted a five-run eighth inning to rally past the host Peoria Javelinas, 9-5.
Salt River (19-13) had dropped two straight games to tighten the race in the East Division. The Rafters are fighting off the Mesa Solar Sox (16-15) for the right to face the Surprise Saguaros (21-8) in the Nov. 19 championship game.
Peoria (13-17) had already been eliminated in the West.
The Javelinas' Jedd Gyorko singled home the game's first run in the opening inning against starter Stephen Fife (Dodgers). Gyorko, the Padres' No. 4 prospect, went 2-for-2 at the plate, to raise his AFL-leading average to .437. He exited the game for a pinch-runner in the third inning due to an undisclosed injury.
Fife allowed three runs on seven hits over four innings, and the Javelinas added one in the fifth. Facing reliever Cole St. Clair (Dodgers), Chih-Hsien Chiang (Mariners) smacked a two-RBI double for a temporary 5-2 advantage.
Javelinas starter Collin McHugh (Mets) yielded two runs on four hits -- including a two-run two-bagger to Ben Paulsen (Rockies) in the second -- over a season-high five innings.
The Rafters tied the score, 5-5, in the eighth when Jake Goebbert (Astros) doubled and scored on a single by Adam Eaton (D-backs). Then Tim Wheeler (Rockies) singled home two runs, and Brian Cavazos-Galvez (Dodgers) and Paulsen drove in one apiece.
Paulsen's comebacker struck Mets prospect Robert Carson in the left shin. He immediately left the game.
Eaton and Paulsen each recorded three-hit games.
Andrew Pentis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.