SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The 2022 Arizona Fall League season ended much the same as the World Series: Players with “Astros” smeared across their chests erupted into a frenzy of victory over the diamond.
The longest game in AFL playoff history (11 innings) ended when Championship Game MVP Scott Schreiber singled wide to left center field for Surprise, tipping the pendulum of the ultimate affair swings in his favor. For the first time since 2013, the Saguaros are enthroned on the throne of the fall circuit with a 7-6 victory.
The upset never carried into the final game of the national baseball campaign until the final swing. Glendale kept the pressure on throughout, but the cohort of Astros, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers and Royals prospects continually recovered, forcing the game to an 11th frame.
“I said in this round, ‘I’m tired of answering every game. As we keep answering, we keep answering – knock them out,’ said surprised manager Mickey Storey. “And Scotty knocked them out .”
Storey, the skipper of Houston’s Triple-A affiliate at Sugar Land, oversaw the third outing in AFL title game history, which had a distinct Astros flavor. Going into the frame on a run, third baseman Will Wagner – who split 2022 between High-A Asheville and Double-A Corpus Christi and went on to enjoy a Fall League breakout campaign (1,145 OPS) – threw an opposing double that tied the contest for the fifth time. This set the stage for Schreiber’s heroism.
“I was like, ‘Do you want me to go or are you going to go?'” Wagner said of a conversation he had with Schreiber. “Then I was like, ‘I’m going to hit the double here, you go. “”
Consider Wagner prescient.
“It was exhausting, but it was also exhilarating,” Schreiber said. “I mean, the pitchers did a great job of keeping us in the game at the end. Obviously it’s tough with a guy in second, but they settled for just one point and we just managed to produce there to end the game.
Schreiber entered his 11th inning at home plate 1 for 3 on the night with a pair of steps. He had a chance to play the role of hero late in the ninth, but pulled the swing back, leaving him burning to end a trying season on the right note.
“I was looking for an off-speed,” Schreiber said. “I was looking to lose speed for most of the game, especially with runners in scoring position, and luckily I had one I was able to do some damage with.”
Schreiber, a ninth-round selection from Houston in the 2018 draft from the University of Nebraska, has taken an arduous path to the wilderness. Sidelined by back surgery for the first four months of the season, the 27-year-old didn’t play until August and was limited to 23 games between the Florida Complex League and Double-A Corpus Christi during the regular season. A stint with the Saguaros offered the real golden ticket to the opportunity.
Fast forward to Saturday night and Schreiber found himself cleaning up the Saguaros after an impressive regular season stint that saw him shrink .340/.404/.540 in 14 games. Surprise, by virtue of its 19-10 record, earned a bye directly to the championship game; there was one game left on the ledger – a real win-win.
The goal of all Fall League participants is to turn fall success into a call for The Show in spring and summer. That aspect stuck in Schreiber’s mind as he ended his year on the high note, but he still took time to soak up the moment of watching the ball find the grass on a bustling November night. in Arizona.
“That was awesome,” Schreiber said with a broad smile. “Just a lot of emotions – mostly excitement – but just grateful that God has given me this opportunity to play in this league, to show my skills and to be with all these great players.”
“It’s exciting for Scotty,” Storey said. “His last at bat, he pulled out strikes and came back in the dugout, frustrated, didn’t like the way his at bat went.
“Baseball is a great game – you get an opportunity, you fail; you get an opportunity, you fail; then you get an opportunity to capitalize and everyone else forgets.
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