Jones' key hit powers Salt River in comeback win

Tigers' No. 9 prospect delivers clutch two-run single for the Rafters

Jones' key hit powers Salt River in comeback win

JaCoby Jones is showing in the Arizona Fall League that he's a good guy to have at the plate with the game on the line.

On Tuesday the Tigers' No. 9 prospect delivered a clutch two-run single to cap Salt River's seventh-inning comeback and propel the Rafters to a 5-4 win over Peoria at Salt River Fields.

"I knew the bases were loaded and the pitcher was struggling with his command, so I was hoping he'd stay around the zone with the first pitch," said Jones, who finished 2-for-3 with a walk at the plate. "Luckily he threw me a fastball middle-down and I put a good swing on it and it went up the middle."

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Peoria wasted no time in pushing across the game's first run, as Justin Williams' ground out to second base plated Guillermo Heredia -- who had reached on a one-out single, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Salt River catcher Jacob Nottingham -- to give the Javelinas an early 1-0 lead.

That score held until the top of the seventh inning, when Adrian Marin drove in Franchy Cordero with a sacrifice fly to left field to extend Peoria's lead.

But Salt River would get the run back and then some in the bottom of the frame.

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Nottingham reached on a leadoff error, advanced to second on Tigers No. 3 prospect Christin Stewart's double and scored on Braves No. 18 prospect Dustin Peterson's single. The Rafters' next hitter, Braves No. 9 prospect Travis Demeritte, then tied the game at 2 with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Salt River didn't stop there, though, as it loaded the bases with one out ahead of Jones, who connected on the first pitch he saw from reliever Kyle Bird for a go-ahead two-run single to center field.

With an exit velocity of 109.11 mph according to Statcast™, Jones' knock was the hardest-hit ball recorded in the game. His other hit, a fourth-inning single, was the third hardest-hit ball in the contest at 106.24 mph. Overall, Jones has hit .333 with 11 RBIs through 16 games in the Fall League.

"I feel more comfortable at the plate than I ever have in my life to be honest," Jones said following the game. "I feel like my swing is shorter and I'm recognizing pitches out of the pitcher's hand. I'm working on my balance, being quicker to the ball and just being in the ready position early."

The Rafters added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Peterson's second RBI single of the game, which followed Stewart's second double of the contest. They finished the game with two hits apiece, while Nottingham paced Salt River with two runs scored.

Peoria's Kean Wong made things interesting in the top of the ninth with a two-out, two-run double against Salt River closer Adam Ravenelle (Tigers' No. 20), only to be thrown out to end the game as he attempted to stretch the hit to a triple.

Both teams' starting pitchers were sharp in the contest.

The lone run allowed by Salt River's Spencer Turnbull was unearned, as the Tigers' No. 12 prospect scattered three hits over four innings. He issued one walk, struck out five and induced six ground-ball outs, with 43 of his 66 pitches going for strikes. The 24-year-old righty lowered his Fall League ERA to 4.50 with the performance.

Meanwhile, Reds farmhand Seth Varner did not allow a hit in his three innings of work for Peoria. The 24-year-old lefty compiled four strikeouts against one walk while throwing strikes with 38 of his 57 pitches.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.