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Infield hit sends Bees by Express

Published: Tuesday, June 30 2015 9:09 a.m. MDT

Chicks dig the long ball, according to the commercial of a few years back.
But sometimes ground balls that don't even get out of the infield can be just as exciting.
Monday night at Franklin Covey Field was a case in point. The Salt Lake Bees scored the winning run over the Round Rock Express without getting a ball out of the infield in the bottom of the ninth inning of their 6-5 victory.
With the score knotted 5-5, Salt Lake's Mike Eylward led off with an infield single that Round Rock shortstop Jesse Garcia was able to knock down to his left, but he was unable to make a throw to first.
With Adam Pavkovich pinch running for Eylward, Bees second baseman Casey Smith then laid down a sacrifice bunt, advancing the go-ahead runner to second. Erick Aybar was then intentionally walked to set up a double-play possibility.
That brought up Reggie Willits. With some of the crowd chanting "Reggie, Reggie, Reggie," the Bees centerfielder worked the count to full and then walked to load the bases.
"Reggie has a good eye and he battles," said Bees manager Brian Harper. "That (walk) was huge." That brought up Kendry Morales with the bases loaded and one out. He hit a grounder to the right side of the infield. Round Rock pitcher Travis Driskill tried to field it, but it went off his glove, for a game-winning infield single.
"That was a fun game to watch," said Harper. "Of course it was a lot more fun for us since we won."
Salt Lake starting pitcher Steven Shell wasn't spectacular, but he was much better than he has been of late. He went six innings — for the first time since June 13 — giving up five runs with four strikeouts. By comparison, he'd lasted a grand total of just nine innings in his previous three starts — all losses — giving up a combined 20 earned runs.
"(Shell's) been struggling and he gave up a few runs tonight, but he battled and hung in there and it was a big improvement," said Harper.
Salt Lake's Marcus Gwyn and Greg Jones, who was recently sent back to the Bees after spending some time with the parent Los Angeles Angels, combined for three innings of scoreless relief.
Smith, in addition to laying down the perfect sacrifice bunt in the ninth, had a pair of hits and two RBIs for the game. Morales also finished with two hits and two RBIs.
The two teams will play the second game of their four-game series tonight at 7. Round Rock will send Jason Hirsh, the PCL's leader in in victories this season with 13, against Salt Lake's Dustin Moseley (9-6, 4.42 ERA).

BEES WAX: The Express is the same franchise that used to be the Edmonton Trappers. In 2005, they moved to Texas and became the Round Rock Express ... Monday's game was the first-ever trip to Franklin Covey Field for the Express ... Willits has now extended his on-base streak to 24 games, the longest active streak in the PCL. The longest such streak in the league this season is 29 ... Attendance was 7,075.


E-mail: lojo@desnews.com

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