After 112 regular-season games and 22 more in the Arizona Fall League, Stephen Piscotty isn't quite ready for a break from competitive baseball.
"We're having a lot of fun right now and we want to keep playing," he said. "It's coming down to the wire right now, and you live for those situations."
Piscotty, the Cardinals' seventh-ranked prospect, went 4-for-5 with two RBIs, a stolen base, a run scored and an outfield assist Wednesday night as Salt River rallied past Scottsdale, 8-5.
A loss would have eliminated the Rafters from the AFL East Division race. Instead, they remained a half-game behind first-place Mesa heading into the final day of the season.
"I felt pretty good. I got a couple of lucky knocks today," said Piscotty. "That's baseball. I saw the ball pretty well. It was a good day."
The 22-year-old outfielder singled in the first, third, seventh and ninth innings. His final hit scored fellow Cards prospect James Ramsey, who as a pinch-runner after D-backs No. 11 prospect Jake Lamb delivered a pinch double with the score tied at 5-5. Cristhian Adames (Rockies), who started the ninth with a two-bagger, scored the go-ahead run on an error that followed Lamb's double.
"It felt like a playoff game. It was a complete team effort," Piscotty said. "I think you have to give player of the game to Lamb for getting that pinch hit in the ninth. That's not easy to come off the bench and do. There were pinch-runners all night and different catchers. It was playoff baseball. It was fun to be a part of."
In the ninth, Piscotty took second on a wild pitch and scored on an error by Scorpions catcher Peter O'Brien (Yankees).
The Stanford product credited the Salt River pitching staff with keeping the Rafters in the game. D-backs prospect Bo Schultz, who entered with a 3-0 record and 2.22 ERA, gave up four runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings, but Tyler Matzek (Rockies), Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays) and Matt Stites (D-backs) combined for four shutout innings. Stroman (1-2) notched the win and Stites picked up his third save.
"All our staff was great," Piscotty said. "Bo pitched his heart out. He'd been so dominant and he gave a great effort. The 'pen picked him up. Those were huge innings by Stroman with the game tied. The 'pen did a phenomenal job. It was a complete and total team win."
The Rafters face the Scorpions again Thursday, while Mesa takes on Glendale. The team that takes the East Division will face West Division winner Surprise in Saturday's Championship Game.
"We're going to go out tomorrow and try to finish it off. We need Mesa to lose, obviously. We can't control that. We're just going to focus on winning," said Piscotty, who raised his average to .372. "We'll try to finish strong and come out with a win. If you do that, you've done everything you could have."
Either way, Piscotty is grateful for the opportunity the AFL has given him.
"Overall, it was a huge learning experience in all aspects," he said. "That's what you get when you get to play more than most guys. It's a huge advantage and hopefully, it'll carry into next year."
Mason Williams, the Yankees' No. 2 prospect, was 3-for-5 with a stolen base and two runs scored for Scottsdale. Addison Maruszak (Yankees) also collected three hits.