Solar Sox




SERIES PREVIEW – Fremont (#3 seed, AL East champion) faces off against Mesa (#6 seed, AL West runner-up). Fremont finished 4th in runs scored in the AL, while Mesa finished 8th. Mesa finished 3rd in runs allowed in the AL, while Fremont finished 6th. Homeruns are often the key to a series, and both Fremont (2nd in AL) and Mesa (4th in AL) can hit their fair share. Fremont took the regular season series 8-4, and starts with the “ghost win” advantage. Due to travel and schedule conflicts, games could not be played head-to-head.

GAME #1 – Andrew Heaney 4-5 (3.83) vs. Shohei Ohtani  14-3 (2.23)

Eugenio Suarez gets the series going with a solo HR off of Shohei Ohtani in the second inning. The Solar Sox then add to their lead in the fifth, with a Carlos Santana double and Tim Anderson single making it 2-0. A successful hit-and-run executed by Oscar Gonzalez put runners at the corners, and a sac fly from Randal Grichuk then gave Mesa the 3-0 lead.

Fremont finally got on the board when Kyle Higashioka lead off the bottom of the sixth with a solo homer, then a single from Ohtani and successful hit-and run by Carlos Core put runners on the corners with no outs. Heaney then buckled down, struck out Vladimir Guererro Jr., and induced a double play from Byron Buxton to end the threat.

That would be as close as Fremont would come to scoring, and the game would end up 3-1 victory for Mesa. Heaney was fantastic, striking out 12 in seven innings. Ohtani also reached double-digit strikeouts with 10 in eight innings.

HR: MSS- Eugenio Suarez (1); FRE- Kyle Higashioka (1)

Mesa 3 – Fremont 1

Win: Andrew Heaney 1-0 (1.29)
Loss: Shohei Ohtani 0-1 (3.38)
Save: Scott Barlow #1

GAME #2 – Pablo Lopez 10-11 (3.32) vs. Sandy Alcantara 21-8 (2.07)

Sandy Alcantara strikes out the first two Solar Sox, but a Randal Grichuk double and Taylor Ward single gives Mesa the early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Byron Buxton leads off the second for Fremont with a single and steal but is left stranded. In the third inning, Tim Anderson singles and steals second, then is singled home by Randal Grichuk for the 2-0 Mesa lead.

In the bottom of the inning, a single from Joey Bart is followed by a Carlos Correa grounder that Eugenio Suarez overthrows, putting runners at 2B and 3B with one out. Lopez faces down Shohei Ohtani and strikes him out, then gets Vladimir Guererro Jr. to line out for the big stop.

Fremont again relies on the longball to get on the board, with a solo HR from Teoscar Hernandez in the fourth cutting the lead to 2-1. In the fifth, a Kolten Wong single and steal is productive as Oscar Gonzalez doubles him home for a 3-1 Mesa lead. Alcantara walks Grichuk to put two on, but Taylor Ward lined out to left to end the inning. There is little drama the rest of the way. Byron Buxton earns a leadoff walk in the ninth off of closer Scott Barlow, but that’s as close as Fremont would come to scoring. Mesa takes the second game by an identical 3-1 score. Pablo Lopez provided another strong pitching performance for Mesa with 10 strikeouts in 6.2 innings, allowing just 1 run.

HR: MSS- none; FRE- Teoscar Hernandez (1)

Mesa 3 – Fremont 1

Win: Pablo Lopez 1-0 (1.35)
Loss: Sandy Alcantara 0-1 (3.86)
Save: Scott Barlow #2

GAME #3 – Carlos Rodon 18-7 (2.38) vs. Cristian Javier 14-3 (2.25)

The scene shifts to Mesa with the Solar Sox needing just two wins in three games at home. The first two games established that runs would be hard to come by, and the same held true for game 3. Fremont finally takes a lead in the series with a solo HR by Vladimir Guererro Jr. in the second inning for a 1-0 lead. After that, both starters would continue to stymie the hitters until the ninth inning. In the top of the ninth, Guererro Jr. picks up a second RBI when he knocks home Josh Rojas for an insurance run. Facing a 2-0 deficit, the Solar Sox are shot down by Giovanny Gallegos for a 2-0 Fremont win.

Javier continued a streak of double-digit K’s for Mesa starters with 10 in a CG loss. Rodon and the Fremont pen hold Mesa to just 2 hits.

HR: MSS- none; FRE- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1)

Fremont 2 – Mesa 0

Win: Carlos Rodon 1-0 (0.00)
Loss: Cristian Javier 0-1 (1.00)
Save: Giovanny Gallegos #1

GAME #4 – Shohei Ohtani  14-3 (2.23) vs. Drew Smyly 3-9 (3.20)

Another tight one, Fremont gets a run in the third when Yoan Moncada brings home Shohei Ohtani. Moncada was only in the game due to an injury to Vladimir Guererro Jr., but comes up big as that would be the only run scored. Mesa is held to only two hits for the second consecutive game, and Fremont takes it 1-0. The double-digit K streak continues for Mesa starters with 12 from Smyly.

HR: none

Fremont 1 – Mesa 0

Win: Shohei Ohtani  1-1 (1.80)
Loss: Drew Smyly 0-1 (1.13)
Save: Giovanny Gallegos #2

GAME #5 – Sandy Alcantara 21-8 (2.07) vs. Andrew Heaney 4-5 (3.83)

Fremont just needs one win in two games to advance, while Mesa needs to get a win at home to stay alive. Nerves abound as the game stays scoreless through the fifth, but Fremont gets two in the 6th and two in the 8th to take the game 4-0 and the series 4-2. Yes, the double-digit K streak continues for Mesa starters with 11 from Heaney.

HR: MSS- none; FRE- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (2), Shohei Ohtani (1)

Fremont 4 – Mesa 0

Win: Sandy Alcantara 1-1 (1.93)
Loss: Andrew Heaney 1-1 (3.00)

SERIES SUMMARY – The teams totaled just 15 runs in 5 games. Mesa, who came in with the 4th most HRs in the AL, was held to just one in the series and was shutout in three straight games at home. No team ever lost a lead in the series, and every game was won by the visitors.

It’s hard to pick a player of the series as the best hitter (Teoscar Hernandez, .944 OPS) rarely figured into the scoring, and Mesa had no hitters perform well. So many pitchers performed well that it is hard to separate them, so I am going to go with Carlos Rodon, whose performance in game 3 stopped the Mesa momentum and set the Cannons rotation on track to three straight shutouts.

Congratulations to Mesa on a fine season as they get to work preparing for 2024, and the Cannons will have to prepare to face one of the historically great franchises in the Division Series with Hollywood.

MONDAY 10/09/2023
AT 10:00 AM - ET!