Though Peoria entered the ninth inning Wednesday trailing first-place Surprise by one run, the Javelinas had no trouble swiftly working their way back into the game.
Japhet Amador quickly tied the game with a leadoff home run. Following Amador, Aaron Altherr doubled, advanced to third on a passed ball and then scored on Jake Lowery's sacrifice fly. Thanks to a double play to escape the makings of a rally in the bottom of the ninth, the Javelinas held on for a 6-5 victory at Surprise Stadium.
Peoria rallied against Surprise right-hander David Goforth, who was summoned in the eighth inning to get the Saguaros out of another jam. Though he was successful that time, the Brewers' No. 17 prospect wouldn't be so lucky in the ninth.
Altherr said he knew Goforth had a good fastball, but was ready when he got a 2-0 slider up in the zone.
"I got a good pitch to hit and I put a good swing on it," Altherr said. "It didn't really roll that far, but I saw the center fielder still running for the ball when I was running to first so I was able to get to second."
Altherr, the Phillies' No. 18 prospect, went 3-for-5 with three runs, two doubles and a stolen base. He had been hitless in four games since returning from a wrist injury that forced him to miss nearly two weeks this fall.
Altherr said he feels good at the plate, though it took him longer than he would have liked to get his timing back.
"It was very hard, especially with the talent down here," Altherr said. "It took me a while, but I'm happy it's finally back."
Altherr's first double came in the second inning against Surprise starter Taylor Jungmann. Peoria scored four runs off Jungmann, who was making his first start since Oct. 14. The Brewers' No. 5 prospect threw 50 pitches and allowed four runs on five hits in 2 1/3 innings.
But after Jungmann left the game, the Saguaros' bullpen was able to keep the Javelinas from adding to their lead. Surprise mounted a comeback and tied the game with two runs in the sixth inning. One inning later, Mookie Betts hit his first home run of the fall to give the Saguaros the lead.
Surprise had scoring chances in the next two innings, but left two runners on in the eighth inning and, with runners on first and second and one out in the ninth, Michael Ohlman grounded into a double play to end the game.
While his time in the Arizona Fall League hasn't gone as smoothly as he would have liked, Altherr is enjoying the opportunity to play close to home. He went to Agua Fria High School in Avondale, Ariz., before the Phillies made him a ninth-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Altherr said he is playing about 30 minutes from home this fall, allowing his parents to attend every game he plays.
But the opportunity for a homecoming isn't the only reason Altherr is enjoying playing in the AFL. The 22-year-old is also using it as a chance to see what he can expect as he continues to progress toward the Major Leagues.
"This is what I'm going to be facing in the years to come," Altherr said. "It's a good experience being out here, seeing how they pitch and what their stuff is like."