SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.— For nearly four hours, Surprise and Glendale engaged in a taut, relentless battle for the Arizona Fall League championship.
Every time one team managed to take the lead, the other quickly responded to erase it. Every time one team appeared to record the game-winning hit, the other made a spectacular defensive play to nullify it. As the hours whittled on and the temperature dropped and the bullpens thinned, it appeared no one could strike the decisive blow to end the game.
No one, that is, except for Scott Schreiber.
Schreiber hit a walkoff RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift Surprise to a thrilling, 7-6 victory and the AFL championship on Saturday night. The Astros first base prospect drilled a 2-1 breaking ball into the left-center gap to score Astros teammate Will Wagner from second base with the winning run and complete Surprise’s wire-to-wire run as the AFL’s best team.
“It’s exhausting, but it was also exhilarating,” said Schreiber, a ninth-round pick from Nebraska in 2018. “I mean, our pitchers did a great job of keeping us in the game there at the end … They were able to keep it at one run and then we were just able to produce to there to finish off the game.”
Surprise came back from a deficit five separate times, including in the 11th. Glendale took a 6-5 lead on Austin Martin’s two-out RBI single to right in the top of the inning, but Surprise had one final comeback in it. After Pirates prospect Nick Gonzales started the inning on second base, Wagner tied the score with an RBI single to left and advanced to second base on the throw to the plate. Schreiber summarily stepped up against Dodgers reliever Tanner Dodson, got ahead in the count and didn’t miss a hanging breaking ball, pounding it into the gap and sending his teammates streaming from the dugout in celebration.
As soon as Schreiber rounded first base, his teammates mobbed him in a fit of joy.
“It feels great,” Schreiber said. “Just an awesome opportunity with all these guys here building relationships you know that’ll last lifetime. It’s great to come out on top with the great season that we had here.”
Schreiber would not have been in position to win it for Surprise if not for some defensive heroics from his teammates.
With the score tied 4-4 in the eighth, Glendale loaded the bases with two outs and Reds slugger Noelvi Marte at the plate. Marte drilled a hard liner into right-center for what appeared to be at least a two-run…