Laura Seitz, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — For the 10th-consecutive year, thousands of Utah fifth- and sixth-graders spent the better part of a school day watching a baseball game at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
And as always, they didn’t need special permission to do so.
The annual "Prevention Dimensions Day" game — a 10-3 win for the Salt Lake Bees over the Memphis Redbirds — drew more than 11,000 students from the Box Elder, Cache, Carbon, Davis, Granite, Logan, Murray, Nebo, Provo, Salt Lake, Sevier, South Summit, Wasatch Charter and Weber school districts.
“Prevention Dimension” is a safe and drug-free schools and communities lesson supported by the Utah State Office of Education’s pre-kindergarten through 12th grade health core. The program’s mission is to help build effective substance abuse and violence prevention skills.
“They earned the opportunity to get here by doing some things in school,” said Bees general manager Marc Amicone. “So it’s a fun kind of reward.”
The game began at 10:35 a.m., following ceremonies that included a program featuring Utah’s first lady, Jeanette Herbert, and Verne Larsen of the Utah State Office of Education.
“It’s a fun day,” Amicone said. “When you watch the kids out there, they’re having a great time.”
Kylan Shorts, a fifth-grader at Hannah Holbrook Elementary in Bountiful, was happy to be among the students spending the day at the stadium. As a baseball player, he was especially pleased to watch the Bees play instead of sitting at a desk and doing schoolwork.
It was that kind of day.
Temperatures reached the low 70s by game’s end with partly cloudy conditions and a gentle breeze.
“It’s a great day for the kids. It’s a great day for the Bees,” Amicone added. “It’s a great day, I think, for the education system.”
The annual program, he said, is something the organization will continue to support — even if things do get a little noisy and hectic at the morning game with all the youngsters in the crowd.
“It gets a little bit of their energy out,” Amicone said. “I’m sure the kids will sleep pretty well tonight.”
The Bees certainly gave them a lot to cheer about after a sluggish start. Trailing 3-0 after Memphis outfielder Jamie Romak hit a three-run double in the fourth inning, they didn’t begin responding until the sixth. That’s when Trent Oeltjen and Roberto Lopez knocked in runs to close the deficit to 3-2.
An inning later, Salt Lake erupted for eight runs to seize control of the game.
“I think it was just a perfect storm of good things for us,” said Bees manager Keith Johnson.
Salt Lake opened the decisive stretch in the seventh with a game-tying sacrifice fly by Luis Jimenez. The Bees later pulled ahead on a bases-loaded walk by Luis Rodriguez.
Leading 4-3, Salt Lake capped things off with a two-run double from Oeltjen, a bases-loaded walk by Luke Carlin and a three-run single from Andrew Romine.
GAME NOTES: The attendance was a season-high 14,446. Salt Lake entered the game ranked ninth in the 16-team PCL with an average attendance of 4,907 through 24 openings. ... The eight runs the Bees scored in the seventh were the most they’ve produced in an inning this season. ... Outfielder Kole Calhoun had three hits for Salt Lake.
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