Behind a stellar pitching performance by right-hander Caleb Killian, the Mesa Solar Sox defeated the Surprise Saguaros, 6-0 to win the 2021 Arizona Fall League Championship in a game played on Saturday night at Salt River Fields.
The Solar Sox, whose roster comprises of players from the Cubs, Athletics, Blue Jays, Marlins and Orioles, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning off of Saguaros starter Jacques Pucheu, who is in the Reds organization. Mesa first baseman Spencer Horwitz (Blue Jays) hit a two-run single and then DH Jonah Bride (Athletics), singled home a third run.
That would be more than enough runs for Mesa’s starter Kilian. Kilian, whom the Cubs acquired from the Giants in the Kris Bryant trade, was literally un-hittable with a combination of a perfectly commanded 94-to-98 mile per hour fastball and a dirty spike curve. He also showed his change and a slider. Kilian pitched six innings and retired all 18 batters he faced. He struck out eight. Killian threw 68 pitches, of which 48 were strikes.
Kilian was unsurprisingly named the Championship Player of the Game.
The Solar Sox added another run in the second inning when Cubs shortstop Luis Vazquez reached on an error, went to third on a single by third baseman Logan Davidson (Athletics) and scored on a sacrifice fly by Marlins’ left fielder JJ Bleday.
Vazquez would also score twice more after drawing a walk. Davidson singled him home in the fourth inning and Bleday singled him home in the sixth.
Kilian exited after six innings of work. After Orioles left-hander Nick Vespi gave up a walk in the seventh, Orioles right-hander Logan Gillaspie gave up a hit in the eighth inning to the Reds’ Drew Mount. That would be the only hit Surprise would get in that game.
Cubs right fielder Nelson Velazquez was named the AFL MVP before the game, but he didn’t produce much in the Championship game as he was 0 for 5 with two strikeouts.
Vazquez was 0 for 3, but he drew two walks and scored three time.
The Cubs’ Andy Weber played second base and he was 1 for 5 and he made at least one nice defensive play in the first inning to help set the tone for the game.
It took all the way to the last game of the year, but the Cubs minor league season finally won a title in 2021.