Caffery Homers Twice as Saguaros Win Pecos League Title
Chris Caffery homered twice, and Cody Earl pitched seven outstanding innings, as the Tucson Saguaros defeated the Salina Stockade, 7-2, sweeping the best of three series. That gave the Saguaros their first title since 2016. Caffery was named as the Championship Series MVP.
Salina needed to get off to a fast start and they did, scoring a run in the top of the first inning. Aaron Takacs singled with one down and moved to second on a base hit by Ernie Geraci two batters later. With two on and two down, Jared Gay singled into right field, driving Takacs home to give the Stockade a 1-0 lead.
Tommy Giunta started for Salina, a night after coming on in relief and giving up the three runs that completed the Tucson come back. He struggled in the bottom of the first, giving up two walks and a double with two down in the inning, but escaped unscathed.
That was not the case in the bottom of the second, however. Cody Earl, who started for the Saguaros, singled to start the frame. James Prockish followed with a double and Gary Mason brought home Earl with a ground out to tie the game. Next up was Christopher Eusay, who grounded a ball to third. Prockish tried to come home but was gunned down at the plate. After Thomas DeBonville reached to keep the inning alive, Caffery turned on a Giunta offering, crushing it for a three-run homer to put Tucson on top, 4-1.
Two innings later, Caffery came through again. Once again, with two down, he blasted his second homerun of the game, a solo shot that extended the lead to four.
The lead became five in the bottom of the fifth. Danny Kerr led off with a double and moved to third on a single by Earl. With one down and runners at the corners, Prockish hit a sacrifice fly, driving home Kerr to put Tucson on top, 6-1.
That was more than enough support for Earl, who was in complete command of this game after giving up the first inning run. A walk, a hit by pitch, and an error allowed Salina to load the bases in the top of the second, but he got a ground out to get out of the frame. After hitting the leadoff batter of the third inning, Earl retired the next 12 batters, as Salina had no answers for the Tucson starter.
Finally, in the seventh, the Stockade got back on the board. José Tejeda ended the run by doubling to lead off the inning. Earl retired the next two batters, but Takacs delivered a clutch two out hit to drive home Tejeda to pull Salina back within four.
Tucson responded right away with a run in the bottom half of the inning. Kerr walked to start the inning but was erased on a double play. Earl then drew a walk, the third time he had reached base in the contest. He moved to second on a walk to Prockish and scored on a double by Mason.
Earl left after seven. He allowed five hits, a walk, and two earned runs, striking out four to earn the victory. Jay Causey came on in the top of the eighth and retired Salina in order. He gave up a one-out walk in the top of the ninth, but then struck out Blake Garrett and Jordan Dicks to end the ballgame, giving the Tucson Saguaros the 2020 Pecos League title.
Caffery finished 2-3 with two runs scored and four RBI. He also walked twice. For the championship series, Caffery finished 3-7 with four runs scored, five RBI, and two home runs, and was selected by the Minor League Sports Report as the Pecos League championship series MVP.
By Robert Pannier