Austin Hedges's day began with a broken bat in batting practice. A few hours later, Hedges was holding another piece of broken lumber in his hands.
But instead of it being a source of embarrassment, his RBI broken-bat, bloop single proved to be the game-winning hit in Peoria's 5-3 victory against Salt River on Friday at Salt River Fields.
"It was not a good day of batting practice," Hedges said. "Two of my bats died heroes, I guess."
With the score tied at 3 and a runner on second in the eighth inning, Hedges, the Padres' No. 2 prospect, stepped to the plate to face right-hander Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect. Hedges said his teammates told him to watch out for Stroman's cutter.
"I broke my bat, but I put a good enough a swing on it for it to drop in," Hedges said.
Second baseman Orlando Calixte, the Royals' No. 8 prospect, raced around from second base to give the Javelinas the lead. They added an insurance run in the ninth inning, and right-handers Jonas Dufek and Ken Giles each threw a scoreless inning and struck out the side to close out the victory.
Hedges finished the day 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Designated hitter Jonathan Meyer hit a two-run home run and shortstop Chris Taylor, the Mariners' No. 5 prospect, went 2-for-5 with a run and a stolen base to aid Peoria's offense.
Hedges didn't just produce with his bat; he also had a big day behind the plate. He threw out two would-be basestealers and threw behind another runner to pick him off first base.
His defensive prowess was part of the reason the Padres selected Hedges in the second round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and went well above slot to sign him away from his UCLA commitment. Hedges has thrown out 32 percent of basestealers in 179 games as a catcher in the Minor Leagues.
Hedges said he always enjoys throwing out a runner, but more important is the impact it has on the game.
"It changes the momentum of the game," Hedges said. "Both times today, it changed the inning pretty drastically."
Salt River got a boost from the Rockies' contingent. Shortstop Cristhian Adames, first baseman Kyle Parker and right fielder Tim Wheeler, hit No. 2-4 in the Rafters lineup and combined to go 5-for-10 with three RBI and two stolen bases. Left-hander Tyler Matzek, their No. 14 prospect, allowed one hit and struck out a batter in a scoreless inning of relief.
Thanks to Saturday's Bowman Hitting Challenge, both teams will now get a rare two days off. Peoria enters the weekend having won back-to-back games to even its Arizona Fall League record at 2-2.
"It's good to get a couple wins going into next week," Hedges said. "We're out here to get better, but we want to win. It's more fun when you're winning. This will be a good weekend to get rest and then get back to it next week."