Rafters' late outburst secures AFL East title
Salt River scores five times in seventh inning, earns trip to Final
Ryan Wheeler is back in familiar territory.
The D-backs' No. 10 prospect hit a key double and scored in a five-run seventh inning Saturday as the Salt River Rafters rallied past the Peoria Javelinas, 7-3, to clinch the Arizona Fall League East Division title.
With the game tied, 2-2, Wheeler hit a 1-0 pitch into right field to score Rockies prospect Nolan Arenado and give the Rafters their first lead of the night. Arenado had reached on a two-out error and moved up on a single by Kody Hinze (Astros).
"I was just looking for something to hit," Wheeler said. "It was up and I put a good swing on it. I put a few good swings on the ball earlier in the day but had some bad luck."
Dodgers prospect Brian Cavazos-Galvez followed Wheeler's double with a three-run homer to put the game away as Salt River earned a berth in the AFL Championship Game next Saturday. The Rafters (21-13) will face the Surprise Saguaros (23-9), who boast the league's best record.
"It was a huge moment," Wheeler said of Cavazos-Galvez's second AFL homer. "This one got the heart of the plate, and when he gets a hold of one he hits it as hard as anyone."
Wheeler got a taste of a title this year, playing a key role in the Double-A Mobile BayBears' Southern League championship. The 23-year-old infielder is looking forward to getting another shot at a celebration.
"It's just so much fun to be part of a successful team," he said. "It keeps your adrenaline gong, it keeps the fun going. We knew we were playing for something special and we want that recognition and we want that ring."
Stu Cole, who has spent the last three seasons managing the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs, was pleased with the way the Rafters have taken care of business.
"It's real exciting," Cole said. "You come out here and play for something and not go through the motions. It was a total team effort for us to get to this point, and all the guys should be proud of what they've done to this point."
Astros outfielder Jay Austin went 3-for-5 and scored a run out of the leadoff spot for Salt River, while Kyle Russell (Dodgers) chipped in two hits, a walk and a run scored.
Tigers No. 4 prospect Casey Crosby (2-0) was credited with the win after striking out two in a perfect inning.
Mariners left-hander Danny Hultzen, the second overall pick in this year'd Draft, made his sixth start the game for the Javelinas. He fanned six and allowed three hits over 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Fellow Seattle prospect Forrest Snow (1-1) surrendered five runs on four hits in 1 2/3 frames and was tagged with the loss.
Brewers prospect Scooter Gennett went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored to extend his hitting streak to seven games for Peoria.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.