Big inning lifts Scorpions in shutout victory

Big inning lifts Scorpions in shutout victory

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After snapping an eight-game losing streak Monday, the Scorpions will take wins however they come in the Arizona Fall League. So Scottsdale was only too happy to stick to its disciplined approach at the plate and draw eight walks Tuesday against Peoria.

Six of those free passes came in the fourth inning and led to four runs. It was all the scoring the Scorpions needed and they defeated the Javelinas, 4-0, at Scottsdale Stadium. It was Scottsdale's second win in as many days against Peoria.

Center fielder Mason Williams, who drew one of the bases loaded walks in the fourth, said the Scorpions didn't get down on themselves during their long losing streak.

"We're still coming out here trying to play hard," said Williams, the Yankees' No. 2 prospect. "We've been fortunate to get a few wins."

The Scorpions scored the game's only runs in the fourth with the benefit of just one hit. Left-hander Noel Arguelles walked the first three batters of the inning before catcher Peter O'Brien drove in the first run on a sacrifice fly. After getting the second out with a popout, Arguelles walked the next two hitters, forcing in a run.

Arguelles was relieved by right-hander Ken Giles, who promptly walked Williams to force in another run. Shortstop Alen Hanson followed with an RBI single before Giles got Cory Vaughn to ground out, ending the inning.

Williams said the Scorpions did a good job of being disciplined at the plate as Arguelles and Giles were struggling to find the strike zone.

"That's to our advantage," Willaims said. "We went up there to be patient and we executed."

Aside from the wild fourth inning, the Javelinas' pitching staff was effective. Right-hander Johnny Barbato made his best start of the fall, allowing one hit in three scoreless innings.

But the Scorpions' pitching staff was even better Tuesday. Right-hander Hansel Robles struck out four batters in three scoreless innings. Six relievers followed the Mets farmhand with scoreless innings of their own, holding the Javelinas to four hits in the shutout. Catcher Austin Hedges, the Padres' No. 2 prospect, had two of those hits to lead Peoria.

Williams said the Scorpions' pitchers did a good job of pitching ahead in the count against the Javelinas.

"The key to our pitching today was they got ahead early," Williams said. "They started batters off early with strikes. The confidence of our pitchers is great."

Though the Scorpions' pitchers didn't need much offensive support Tuesday, Williams did his best to provide some. He bunted for a hit to lead off the seventh inning, one of just four hits for the Scorpions. It extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

Williams, ranked No. 36 on MLB.com's Top 100 prospects list, is one of the fastest runners in the AFL. He said he wants to use his speed to impact games, and bunting for hits helps him do that.

"I'm trying to use it and get better at it," Williams said. "I want to use it more. I'm just here trying to work on my game, and that's part of it."

With fewer than two weeks left in the AFL season, time is running out for the Scorpions to dig themselves out of the hole in which their losing streak left them. Scottsdale is in last place in the East Division and entered the day trailing first-place Mesa by 5 1/2 games.

Regardless of now the Scorpions finish, Williams said he has already gotten a lot out of the opportunity to play in the AFL.

"The talent out here is unreal," Williams said. "I've never played with as many great players as out here in the Fall League. It helps me mentally, knowing I can compete with the best players out here."

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.