11/20/2004 6:46 PM ET
Desert Dogs slam way to AFL title
Royals prospect hits big homer in championship game
By Jim Street / MLB.com
|Phoenix players celebrate after winning Saturday's AFL Championship game. (Bill Mitchell/MLB.com)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A tip from one of his teammates Saturday afternoon made for a grand slam ending to Donald Murphy's baseball season and presented the Phoenix Desert Dogs with the Arizona Fall League championship.
While Murphy (Royals) waited for Scottsdale Scorpion reliever Steve Schmoll (Dodgers) to complete his warmup tosses in the bottom of the eighth inning at Scottsdale Stadium, he received some advice from outfielder Chris Roberson of the Phillies.
"He told me that (Schmoll) would come after me and throw a fastball over the plate right away," Murphy said. "I got the pitch Roberson told me about and hit it."
The result was Murphy's first grand slam as a professional, an opposite-field blast to right field that gave the Desert Dogs a 6-2 victory before 1,981.
"I thought it was going to be a double, but it kept going," Murphy said.
Right-handed reliever Huston Street, who tied for the league lead with a 0.98 ERA, retired six of the seven batters he faced to secure the win and send the Desert Dogs into a pile of humanity behind the mound.
"This has been the most enjoyable baseball experience in my life," Street said. "I'll cherish these six weeks forever."
The former University of Texas All-American, a sandwich selection between the first and second rounds of last June's First-Year Player Draft by the Athletics, pitched so well that Desert Dogs manager Dean Treanor of the Marlins predicted that Street's next stop could be the Major Leagues.
"I have had a lot of people ask for my opinion," Treanor said, "and in my mind, he absolutely will be in the big leagues next year. He has been the talk of the league this year and I can't say enough about his stuff.
"There were times down here when he touched 94 (mph) and our scouts didn't have that in their reports. He also has what it takes inside to be successful."
Street was the fourth pitcher Treanor used in the championship game. Starter Steve Obenchain (Athletics), Keith Bucktrot (Phillies) and Wes Wilkerson (Royals) combined with Street on a four-hitter.
Two of those hits were home runs.
Catcher Corey Myers (Diamondbacks) led off the second inning with a home run and Tommy Whiteman (Astros) slugged a one-out home run in the third to give the Scorpions a 2-0 lead.
The Desert Dogs pulled even in the bottom of the third when outfielder Jeremy Hermida (Marlins) hit a leadoff home run, Mark Teahen (Royals) singled and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.
The tie lasted until the eighth inning.
Scottsdale reliever Ben Diggins (Brewers) walked catcher Carlos Ruiz (Phillies), shortstop Omar Quintanilla (Athletics) singled to center and Tommy Murphy (Angels) reached on an error, loading the bases.
Scorpions manager Ivan DeJesus replaced Diggins with Schmoll, a side-arming right-hander. One pitch later, the Desert Dogs had their first lead of the game.
"Murphy got a pitch that he could hit, obviously, and going the other way is his strength," Treanor said. "I couldn't be happier for him. If you look at the end of the season stats for this guy, they are not gaudy at all, but to come up and get that big hit like that is something he'll remember for a long time."
Murphy, who played at Class-A Wilmington last season, batted .214 during the regular AFL season with four home runs and nine RBIs.
"This is the at-bat I will take into next season," he said of the slam.
Jim Street is a reporter MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.