Streaking Scorpions walk off on Hanson's hit
Pirates prospect caps comeback with 10th-inning single for Scottsdale's fifth straight
Alen Hanson could feel the pressure of the moment as he stepped up to the plate in the 10th inning on Wednesday. The game was tied at 1 and Scottsdale had loaded the bases with no outs against Mesa right-hander Ryan Dull.
Hanson embraced the challenge and pulled a single through the right side of the infield, driving in Gift Ngoepe from third for the game-winning run in the Scorpions' 2-1 victory at Scottsdale Stadium. The win extended Scottsdale's streak to five games.
"I knew I needed to execute," Hanson said through translator Luis Rivera. "I just got it done."
Hanson's game-winning hit completed the Scorpions' late comeback. Trailing the Solar Sox, 1-0, entering the bottom of the ninth, Tommy La Stella led off the inning with a triple off Robert Benincasa. A passed ball then allowed him to tie the game.
After John Cornely held Mesa scoreless in the top of the 10th, Scottsdale went to work against Dull in the bottom of the inning. Andrew Sucac led off the inning with a walk, and Ngoepe pinch-ran for the Scorpions' catcher. Kyle Kubitza followed with a single and Mason Williams was intentionally walked to bring up Hanson.
After missing several scoring opportunities early in the game, Hanson said the Scorpions weren't going to let another one slip away.
"We had a couple opportunities early in the game, but we didn't execute the right way," Hanson said. "This time we did. We kept playing hard. That's why we were successful at the end."
The Solar Sox's pitching staff kept the Scorpions in check for most of Wednesday's game. Left-hander Matt Purke allowed one hit and no runs in five innings, extending his scoreless-innings streak to 10. The Nationals' No. 8 prospect has allowed only an unearned run in his three starts in the Arizona Fall League.
But Mesa's hitters didn't have much more success against Scottsdale's pitching staff. Right-hander Hansel Robles threw four scoreless innings for the Scorpions.
The Solar Sox scored their lone run in the sixth inning against right-hander Juan Jaime. Steven Souza hit a one-out single and stole second and third base. Wes Darvill hit an RBI single to give Mesa what appeared to be the only run it would need.
Souza was the only member of the Solar Sox with multiple hits Wednesday. He went 3-for-4 and now leads the league with nine stolen bases in five games.
Hanson said he is working on all facets of his game while he's in the AFL. But the 21-year-old is paying extra attention to his defense, as he tries to prove he can be a shortstop in the Major Leagues.
"I want to get better in everything that needs work, especially on defense," Hanson said. "[The Pirates] asked me to get better on defense."