Rafters rally late as pitch clock gets second look

Salt River mounts five-run eighth to upend Glendale; game time at 2:28

Rafters rally late as pitch clock gets second look

SCOTTSDALE -- Just when it looked like the Salt River Rafters were on the verge of dropping a second straight game to the Glendale Desert Dogs, the bats came alive and pulled out the victory. The Rafters, who had been shut down for the bulk of the evening, scored five runs in the eighth inning on their way to a 5-1 win Thursday night at Salt River Fields.

Thursday night's matchup was also the second game to feature the 20-second pitch clock, which Major League Baseball's Pace of Game Committee is testing -- along with other time-saving measures -- in the Arizona Fall League. The game lasted two hours and 28 minutes, making the average of "pitch-clock games" a swift two hours and 21 minutes.

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"It does affect it some," Rockies prospect Ryan Casteel said. "I see pitchers, not rushing, but they're getting the ball and going a little more. I think it's pretty effective."

Casteel and the Rafters were limited to just four hits over the first seven innings, but once the eighth came around, so did the offense.

Marlins shortstop Justin Bohn led off the inning with a single, and one out later, Astros outfielder Andrew Aplin tied the game with an RBI double into the right-field corner. D-backs prospect Brandon Drury worked a walk, and that set the stage for Casteel.

"We're clicking, timely hitting," Casteel said after the Rafters' seventh win in the past eight games. "We never quit either. We've got a good club, a good pitching staff. We're good all the way around. It's been fun, we've just got to keep it going."

The first baseman, who finished 2-for-4 and is now hitting .296 in the AFL, lined a single to left to give his team the lead.

"He was pretty quick to the plate, so I knew I had to get ready," Casteel said. "He left a slider up and fortunately I was able to get a piece of it."

Casteel hit .280 in 113 games with Double-A Tulsa this season -- his best batting average over the past four years -- and the 23-year-old hopes to continue trending upward in the AFL.

"I'm just trying to carry on what I've been doing offensively," Casteel said. "Just playing the game, getting more at-bats."

The Desert Dogs' lone run came in the top of the first when Corey Seager -- the No. 1 prospect in the Dodgers' organization according to MLBPipeline.com -- lined an RBI double off the 410-foot sign in straightaway center field.

Tigers prospect Robbie Ray also provided the Desert Dogs with a strong start as he threw three scoreless innings of one-hit ball.

Ray also was called for the only pitch-clock violation of the game, as he was unable to start the bottom of the first on time and was called for an automatic ball.

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