AFL: Alen Hanson Homers In Loss, Phil Irwin Struggles

The Scottsdale Scorpions lost to Mesa today by a 7-4 score, dropping their record to 7-7 on the season. Three Pittsburgh Pirates players were in the starting lineup, Phil Irwin was the starter and Zack Thornton came out of the bullpen. Irwin ended up taking the loss.arizona_fall_league_logo

Alen Hanson was batting second and came up in the first inning with a man on first. He quickly made the score 2-0, belting his first homer of the AFL season. In his second AB, Hanson lined out to left field. In the sixth inning, he went down swinging for the 12th straight out for Scottsdale hitters. In the eighth inning, Hanson reached on a single, improving his average to .293 after 41 AB’s.

Alex Dickerson was in right field today and batting clean up. In his first AB, he singled on a line drive to left field. He led off the fourth inning for Scottsdale, and lined out to left field. In the sixth, Dickerson doubled for his second hit of the game. He came to the plate one more time, striking out in the eighth inning.

Gift Ngoepe was the designated hitter today, batting ninth. He came up with two outs in the second and a man on first base. Ngoepe flew out to right field to end the inning. Ngoepe also ended the fifth inning, this time with a ground ball to second base. Scottsdale mounted a comeback in the seventh and Ngoepe had a chance to get them closer. He came up with two men on and one out. Ngoepe came up empty though, going down swinging, dropping his average to .095 in 21 AB’s. Ngope would get one more AB, ending the game with his second straight strikeout.

Phil Irwin made his second start since replacing Jameson Taillon on the AFL roster. Irwin threw three shutout innings in his season debut. On Thursday, he ran into trouble quickly. Irwin retired the first batter, then gave up a single, walk and another single to load the bases. He struck out the next hitter for the second out, but a two run single on the next pitch tied the score. Irwin picked up another strikeout to end the inning. Despite the walk and two strikeouts, he threw just 16 pitches in that first inning, 11 went for strikes.

In the second inning, Irwin started off well, getting a line out to left field and then a strikeout. He then gave up a double and single to bring home the third run for Mesa. The last batter popped out to second to end the inning. Irwin was still very efficient with his pitches, throwing ten in the inning, nine went for strikes.

The tough day for Irwin continued into the third inning. He gave up a lead-off homer, followed by back-to-back singles. After a line out to second base, Irwin walked two straight hitters to end his night. In 2.1 innings, he allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks, picking up three strikeouts. Irwin threw a total of 51 pitches. Of his 25 pitches in the third inning, just ten went for strikes.

Following Irwin, Zack Thornton came into the game with the bases loaded and his team down 5-2 already. He got out of the inning with the minimal damage, allowing a sacrifice fly, followed by an inning ending ground out.

Thornton came back out for the fourth and retired the first batter on a fly ball to right field. The next batter grounded out to third base for the second out. Thornton had a long battle with the third hitter that ended with a nine pitch walk. He then allowed a single, followed by a walk that loaded the bases. Thornton brought home the seventh run for Mesa with a bases loaded hit-by-pitch. That was the end of the day for Thornton. In 1.1 innings, he threw 36 pitches, 21 for strikes. He allowed one run on one hit, two walks and a hit batter.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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