SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Bees fought and fought, but they ultimately came up short in a 10-5 loss to Omaha on Saturday night in the Pacific Coast League championship.
With the victory, the Storm Chasers clinched the best-of-five series 3-1.
“My guys fought to the end, put up runs in those last two innings, so I was glad to see that,” said Bees manager Keith Johnson.
Things didn’t exactly start well for the Bees, who were trailing 3-0 at the end of the first inning.
Matt Shoemaker gave up three earned runs on five hits in the top of the first, which was the scoreline for the majority of Saturday’s game.
Still, it seemed as though the Bees were never really out of the game.
For example, through the first four innings Salt Lake had eight hits, leaving seven players on base. Things took a favorable turn for the Bees in the bottom of the fifth when Efren Navarro closed the gap to 3-2 with a two-run homer.
“We had some missed opportunities over the course of the night that would have made the whole complexity of the game different,” said Johnson, who brought his team within one game of a title in just his third season at the helm.
Just as things were starting to come together for Salt Lake, the unfortunate happened. Trailing by just two runs in the eighth, Omaha left fielder Lane Adams smacked a ball down the third-base line that was originally called foul by the third-base umpire (Scott Mahoney). Call it a case of overexcitement, but the umpire reversed his call midplay and allowed three Omaha runs to score.
The Bees would rally for three runs in the final two innings, but it was too little to late in the dramatic loss.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: It’s quite possible that Saturday night could have been Navarro’s last game in a Bees uniform. The first baseman contributed both offensively and defensively — most notably his two-run homer in the fifth inning that brought his team within one run. Navarro finished the series against Omaha 9 for 16 with a home run, a triple, five runs and six RBIs.
“I thought we had opportunities to score early, and it’s unfortunate that it didn’t happen. But as a team I feel like we could have done a lot more,” said Navarro.
AT THE TOP, AGAIN: With 5 2/3 innings pitched Saturday, Shoemaker finished the 2013 PCL season throwing 190 innings. For the second-straight year, Shoemaker topped the minors in innings pitched.
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