Souza helps Sox past Meyer, Dogs

Nationals prospect tags best friend with early two-run homer

Steven Souza is hitting .357 with a homer and eight RBIs in 11 AFL games. (Will Bentzel/

By Danny Wild / | November 13, 2013 6:52 PM ET

It came at the cost of a bat, but Steven Souza got his revenge on Alex Meyer.

"It was the first time I faced him, he had a big smile on his face," Souza said.

Meyer's smile wasn't just for seeing an old friend. Souza, a former teammate of the tall Twins prospect, had just connected on a go-ahead two-run homer in the second inning.

"He broke my bat [early in the at-bat], so I was looking for something over the plate, preferably down in the zone, and I got it," Souza said. "I put a good swing on it."

Souza's blast led the way Wednesday afternoon Mesa took advantage of an error in the fourth inning to score a key insurance run in a 3-2 Arizona Fall League win over Glendale.

The homer was the first in the AFL for Souza and sent the first-place Solar Sox (18-11) on the way to their fifth straight win. Fellow Nats prospect Matt Skole tripled and scored on a throwing error in the fourth to extend Mesa's lead to 3-0. That was enough for Cubs right-hander Matt Loosen (2-1), who allowed two hits and three walks in two scoreless innings.

"I smiled at him he and he gave me a little smile back," Souza said of his long ball off Meyer. "I'm sure we'll talk about it tomorrow at Glendale."

Souza and Meyer were teammates in 2012 with Class A Hagerstown and Class A Advanced Potomac, but Meyer was traded to the Twins a few months later for outfielder Denard Span. That put the pair in opposite leagues and organizations, though Souza called Meyer "one of my best friends."

"He's got electric stuff, swing-and-miss stuff," said Souza, a 2007 third-round Draft pick. "He competes. I can't say enough about the guy. I know he's going to be up there soon. The Twins have something to look forward to."

Souza, who batted .297 with 15 homers, 46 RBIs and 22 steals in 81 games this season, mostly at Double-A Harrisburg, also was impressed with his own bullpen on Wednesday.

"We got into some jams, but our pitching really stepped up to find a way to get the outs we needed," he said. "It was a huge team effort -- pitching, defense, all the way around."

The Fall League season ends Thursday, with the Championship Game set for Saturday in Scottsdale. The Solar Sox remained a half-game in front of second-place Salt River (18-12).

"It's huge. It's one thing to be one game behind and hoping the other team loses, but when all you've got to do is go out, play your hardest and not worry about the other team, it's fun," Souza said. "I don't think anyone is feeling pressure. It's a fun thing."

Pressure or not, Souza said he's learned a lot during his stint with Mesa, even in a smaller role.

"It's been an honor, I'm very thankful God and the Nationals sent me here," he said. "There are great people, talent and coaches here. I don't have one complaint. It was an honor and a blessing.

"I definitely learned a different role, how to come off the bench and not play every day. I got to talk to Brian Harper and Troy [Gingrich] about how to do those things. There was a bit of a learning curve, but it was fun. It was a great challenge."

As for Meyer, he fell to 2-1 after being charged with two runs on three hits and a walk in three innings. He struck out three and threw 27 of 48 pitches for strikes.

Brent Keys (Marlins) went 3-for-5 with a double and a run scored and Brian Cavazos-Galvez (Dodgers) lifted a sacrifice fly for the Desert Dogs (13-15).

Danny Wild is an editor for Follow his MLBlog, Minoring in Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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