Betts jump-starts Saguaros' decisive six-run sixth
Surprise surges ahead thanks to Red Sox prospect's single, stolen base
The Saguaros' rally began innocently enough in the sixth inning Tuesday. With the score tied at 2, Surprise second baseman Mookie Betts greeted Salt River reliever Kraig Sitton with a leadoff single. Betts then stole second and scored on Ryan Rua's single, giving Surprise the lead.
The inning soon spiraled out of control for Sitton. Surprise sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs to break the Arizona Fall League contest open. The Saguaros cruised to a 9-2 victory at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, snapping their three-game losing streak.
Betts, the Red Sox's No. 16 prospect, said he knew he needed to get on base to start the sixth to give the Saguaros a chance. And, having done that, he said it felt good to keep scoring runs and build a big lead.
"We'd been playing from behind the last couple games," Betts said. "To get a big game and be comfortable for a few innings felt real good."
So far this fall, Betts has continued his impressive season. He hit .314 with 15 home runs and 38 stolen bases in 127 games between Class A Greenville and Class A Advanced Salem this year. After going 1-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base Tuesday, he is hitting .308 in the AFL.
Betts said his breakout season has been a result of being more experienced.
"I expect things better and know what's going to happen," Betts said. "I know how to handle each situation. And I've got a good group of guys around me to help me."
In addition to Betts' contributions, Surprise got big games from center fielder Tyler Naquin and catcher Jorge Alfaro. Naquin, the Indians' No. 5 prospect, went 3-for-5 with a run and two RBIs. Alfaro, the Rangers' No. 1 prospect, went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.
While the Saguaros' offense surged in the sixth inning, they were held in check for five innings by Rafters starter Bo Schultz. He struck out four batters and allowed only a pair of unearned runs.
"He had command of everything," Betts said. "He was throwing strikes in, out, up, down, everywhere. There's not much you can do when a guy's throwing like that."
Despite Schultz's performance, the Rafters were trailing, 2-1, in the fifth inning. They tied the game when second baseman Ryan Brett tripled and then scored on Jake Lamb's double. Lamb went 1-for-3 and drove in both of Salt River's runs.
But the Rafters could muster no more runs against the Saguaros' bullpen. Right-handers Keith Couch and Branden Kline and left-hander Jason Gurka combined for four scoreless innings to finish the game.
The win snapped the Saguaros' short skid, but Betts said they aren't focused on wins and losses.
"We don't really think about wins and losses, we think about quality of us playing," Betts said. "You try not to worry about wins and losses; those things happen. You focus on playing the game hard."