11/09/11 7:56 PM EST
Gran, Saguaros clinch AFL West crown
Marlins prospect homers in 10th inning for league's top team
By John Parker and David Heck / Special to MLB.com
Gran and Myers combined for two homers, two triples and five RBIs on Wednesday as Surprise weathered a comeback attempt and topped the Peoria Javelinas, 10-7, in 10 innings to clinch the West Division crown.
The Saguaros will be the home team in the AFL Championship Game on Nov. 19.
"We've got a really good group here," manager Billy Gardner said. "It's a talented group, it's a group that has some passion for baseball. ... It's a long season and we're in November, but these guys continue to play with energy and play hard and win games."
Gran, a Marlins third base prospect, slugged a three-run blast in the 10th to put the game out of reach for the Saguaros, who improved to 12-1 on the road. The 25-year-old was appearing in just his 10th game of the fall, going 2-for-4 with a homer, triple and three RBIs. He has four extra-base hits and seven RBIs in his last three outings.
"When I first saw he was on our taxi squad, I thought that was a pretty good guy to have there," said Gardner, who managed Double-A Montgomery in the Rays organization this season. "I saw Paul in the Southern League this year and really liked his approach at the plate. He had a great at-bat and was selective. He drove the ball up, and that's the same thing I saw out of Paul this year."
Surprise jumped out to an early lead as Myers remained hot with a two-out solo shot, his fourth, in the first. The Royals' No. 1 prospect followed up a 5-for-5 effort in his last game by going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. He's third in the league with a .395 batting average.
"I was just seeing the ball pretty well, was lucky enough to get some good pitches out over plate and took advantage," Myers said. "I've been seeing the ball pretty well lately."
"He's not one of those guys that's going to be cluttered in the head," Gardner said. "He's going to go up there looking to shrink his zone and execute. When you get that combination of a fast bat and real strong strike zone command, you have a chance to be a really good Major Leaguer."
Peoria battled back with three runs in the third as Kentrail Davis (Brewers) laced a two-run triple and scored on a wild pitch by Royals right-hander Nathan Adcock.
Gran tripled and came home in the fifth to cut the Saguaros' deficit to 3-2 and Myers tripled home fellow Royals prospect Christian Colon in the sixth before scoring on a single by Joe Terdoslavich (Braves).
A two-run triple by Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin in the eighth gave the Saguaros a 6-3 lead, but reliever Billy Bullock (Braves) issued four straight walks and a single that boosted the Javelinas into a 6-6 tie.
Both teams left the potential go-ahead run on third in the ninth before the Saguaros sewed up the win in the 10th. Christian Bethancourt (Braves) singled home Rangers prospect Ryan Strausborger before Gran broke it open.
Chih-Hsien Chiang (Mariners) led off the bottom of the 10th with his first AFL homer off closer Alejandro Ramos (Marlins), but the Javelinas got no closer.
Rangers right-hander Johan Yan (2-0) got the win, allowing a hit and a walk over 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Brewers prospect Casey Medlen (1-2) was charged with four runs on three hits and a pair of walks in two frames.
The Saguaros improved to their AFL-best record to 21-8. They must go no worse than 5-2 in their final seven games to eclipse the top winning percentage in league history; the Mesa Solar Sox (.705) went 31-13 in 1999.
"Definitely, now [we have more team goals] than at the beginning," Myers said. "We know what's at stake. Obviously, you come out here trying to make your overall game better, but we know what's on the line at the end of the season."
John Parker and David Heck are contributors to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.