SALT LAKE CITY — If the Fourth of July wasn't Andrew Romine's favorite holiday before his Salt Lake Bees edged past the Las Vegas 51s, 10-9, in an Independence Day showdown on Monday evening, there's a good chance it is one of his favorites now.
The Bees' second baseman and leadoff batter, Romine jump-started his team's offense in the bottom half of the first inning by blasting a powerful home run over the fence and past the grassy berm, out to the trees deep beyond the right field wall.
He then turned right around and started the second inning with a defensive play that was just as spectacular — snagging a line drive out of the air at the top of his jump, stealing a hit from the 51s' Adam Loewen.
"He had another solid game," Bees manager Keith Johnson said of Romine, who finished 2-for-4, reached base a third time when he was nailed in the hip with a wild pitch, scored twice, and recorded two RBIs. "He just continues to get good at bats and set the tone for the entire team."
The Bees did follow Romine's lead, and then stayed hot throughout the contest. The team pushed five runs across the plate in the second inning alone and then went on to rack up 19 hits total.
"The guys have gotten in a groove, they've found consistency and a way to feed off each other," Johnson said.
All nine players in the Bees' starting lineup had a hit and seven had multiple hits, led by performances of Paul McAnulty and Efren Navarro, who both finished 3-for-5 on the night. Shortstop Gil Velazquez was 3-for-4 and catcher Kevin Richardson had two hits, one of which was a broken-bat single in fifth inning.
It wasn't until the ninth inning that the 51s showed much life at the plate as Ryan Shealy blasted a grand slam into left field. Two batters later, Jason Lane followed up with an RBI-double and Yan Gomes hit an RBI single to pull Las Vegas to within a run.
Kevin Jepsen entered the game with one out remaining to earn the save and maintain starting pitcher Ryan Ketchner's win.
After securing the victory, Johnson added that the Fourth of July ambiance, which included camouflage uniforms, five stars cut in the infield grass, more than 14,000 fans, and fireworks lighting the sky throughout the evening, added an extra buzz to the home victory.
"It's always good to play in front of a big crowd," he said. "We definitely fed off of them tonight."
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