The second-place Solar Sox rallied for a 12-10 victory over Salt River on Friday afternoon, keeping alive their hopes of catching the front-running Rafters.
Mesa (14-14) and Salt River (17-11) face off twice more prior to the AFL Championship Game on Nov. 19. The Solar Sox will have a chance to climb above .500 for the first time this season when league play resumes Monday.
"It certainly is" on our minds, said Joe Mahoney, the Orioles' No. 3 prospect who collected three of Mesa's 16 hits. "Hopefully, we'll get to stay a few extra days and leave with a ring."
Friday's matinee was tied three times and was not decided until the 27th out was recorded.
"It's fun," said Mahoney, whose dust storm-aided three-run homer in the seventh inning forged a 9-9 deadlock. "They say you always score more runs in the AFL. Later in the game, after the sixth inning, it was hard to see."
The official scorer also would have had reason to complain of blurry vision.
The Rafters fell behind, 5-3, before busting out for six runs in the seventh. Rockies prospects Tim Wheeler and Nolan Arenado and Jake Goebbert (Astros) smacked RBI doubles before Brian Cavazos-Galvez (Dodgers) singled home a pair and Hernan Perez (Tigers) lifted a sacrifice fly.
Arenado -- the Rockies' No. 4 prospect -- had four of Salt River's 19 hits and drove in his league-leading 30th run, while Goebbert and Cavazos-Galvez contributed three hits apiece. Cavazos-Galvez also stole two bases.
The Solar Sox responded in the bottom of the seventh. Mahoney followed an RBI single by Cubs prospect D.J. LeMahieu with his third Fall League homer.
"The wind was blowing out," said Mahoney, who jumped on a first-pitch breaking ball from Tigers reliever Rob Waite. "I'm sure it helped it a little bit."
Mahoney garnered attention in his AFL debut on Oct. 15 when he committed four errors but also went 3-for-5 with four RBIs.
The Rafters reclaimed the lead in the eighth as Wheeler doubled off White Sox prospect Jake Petricka, advanced to third on Arenado's single and scored on a miscue by Mahoney.
"It was kind of freak play," Mahoney said. "The ball hit the middle of my glove and just popped out. I feel like that's been happening a lot here in the AFL. Defense is usually something I take pride in. It's obviously something on my list to work on."
Robbie Grossman (Pirates) homered with one out in the bottom of the eighth to make it 10-10 before Brian Dozier (Twins) and Brandon Short (White Sox) delivered consecutive doubles to put the Solar Sox in front for good. LeMahieu capped a three-hit, three-RBI day with a run-scoring single.
Rafters starter Andy Oliver, the Tigers' No. 2 prospect, allowed a pair of runs on two hits -- including Dozier's second AFL homer -- over three innings. He threw 37 pitches.
Solar Sox counterpart Steve Johnson (Orioles) also didn't figure in the decision after giving up two runs on four hits while striking out three in 3 1/3 frames.
Andrew Pentis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less