I decided to just go ahead and roll the dice. Luckily, it worked out for us. Hopefully Marte will be OK. He’s a big part of our lineup and what we’re doing, so hopefully he’ll be OK. —Keith Johnson, Salt Lake Bees manager
SALT LAKE CITY — When it comes to playoff drama, the Salt Lake Bees are batting 1,000. For the second consecutive night they kept fans at Spring Mobile Ballpark in their seats until the bottom of the ninth inning, topping Las Vegas 5-4 on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Scott Cousins.
Andy Marte scored on the play to give Salt Lake a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five PCL Pacific Conference championship series.
“That’s huge. That gives us a little bit of a cushion,” Cousins said. “We’ve got to go down there and win one out of three instead of two out of three, or three out of three on the road. I mean that’s a huge difference to pull out these wins at home.”
On Wednesday, Salt Lake prevailed on a walk-off homer by Matt Long.
The second game of the series was a seesaw affair with both teams holding and losing leads.
Las Vegas started the back-and-forth process on the eighth pitch of the game when lead-off hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis belted a solo homer.
Trailing 1-0, Salt Lake responded with two outs in the third inning on RBI singles by Matt Long and Efren Navarro.
The Bees’ lead, though, didn’t last long.
A two-run single from Rylan Sandoval put the 51s back on top in the fourth.
Salt Lake, however, evened the score one inning later on a home run by Andy Marte.
Locked in a 3-3 tie with one out in the eighth inning, Salt Lake shortstop Tommy Field appeared to drive in the game-winning run with a single to center field.
The Bees led 4-3 until the 51s knotted the score with two outs in the ninth on an RBI double by Francisco Pena — setting the scene for the dramatic conclusion in the ninth.
Marte, who had four hits in the game, was injured while sliding head first toward the plate. He was called safe on a close play — much to the delight of the Bees and the chagrin of the 51s.
“I decided to just go ahead and roll the dice,” said Bees manager Keith Johnson. “Luckily, it worked out for us. Hopefully Marte will be OK. He’s a big part of our lineup and what we’re doing, so hopefully he’ll be OK.”
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