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Ronald Acuna and Art Warren highlight 11-10 win in AFL Military Appreciation Game

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Attendees at the Arizona Fall League’s annual Military Appreciation Game were treated to a bonafide slugfest on Saturday evening, culminating in the Peoria Javelinas’ last-minute 11-10 win over the Surprise Saguaros.

Boasting prospects from the Braves, Red Sox, Padres, Mariners and Blue Jays’ systems, the Javelinas were the first to strike. Braves’ top prospect Ronald Acuna led off the second inning with a home run that came steaming off the bat at 103 MPH, per MLB.com’s William Boor. Luis Urias tacked on a two-RBI single, and Michael Chavis capped Peoria’s four-run spread with a sac fly.

Rangers’ right-hander Tyler Davis finally settled down for the third out, but that brought trouble of a different kind when LaMonte Wade and Oscar Mercado were roughed up in a full-speed collision in right field. Wade was carted off the field in a stretcher and taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for a concussion before later returning to the stadium.

In the third inning, 19-year-old Acuna returned for a two-run shot off of Royals’ lefty Matt Tenuta, marking the first multi-homer performance of his brief pro ball career. It didn’t take long for the Saguaros (comprised of players from the Royals, Twins, Cardinals, Rays and Rangers’ organizations) to start chipping away at the Javelinas’ lead, however. Padres’ hurler Jerry Keel looked shaky off the mound in the fourth inning, promptly serving up an RBI single to Chris Paul before Corbin Clouse walked in a run with four straight balls to Nick Dini.

Nicky Lopez delivered the biggest blow of the inning, striking a grand slam to take the Saguaros’ first lead over the Javelinas, 6-7. They padded that lead with another three-run spread in the fifth, banking on Paul’s two-run triple and a run-scoring passed ball to keep their rivals at arm’s length.

Down 10-6 in the eighth inning, Blue Jays’ outfielder Jonathan Davis caught another break from the Saguaros, taking Jacob Bodner deep with his first home run of the AFL. The Javelinas wouldn’t get another run-scoring hit all night, but they had plenty of help overturning the score after Josh Naylor’s bases-loaded walk, Alex Jackson’s RBI hit by pitch and a go-ahead fielder’s choice to score Urias in the ninth. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that Mariners’ righty Art Warren shut down the Saguaros with two innings of one-hit, five-strikeout ball, either.)

There are still 12 games remaining before the AFL concludes with its Championship Game on Saturday, November 18 at 3:08 PM ET. The Mesa Solar Sox currently head the AFL East division with a 15-10 record, while the Javelinas have the West on lockdown with a 15-11 record.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.