No kidding, this baseball game was decided in the first inning when nobody scored. The Salt Lake Trappers were in trouble right after they loaded the bases and Butte starter Kyle Spencer discovered a teammate already warming up in the bullpen.
Spencer worked out of the three-walk jam by striking out Tommy Boyce and having Mando Verdugo ground out, and the Copper Kings were on their way to an 8-2 victory at Derks Field. Butte is now two games back of the Trappers in the Pioneer League Southern Division with Games 3 and 4 of the series scheduled for Thursday and Friday nights.With his wave to the bullpen in he first inning, Butte manager Bump Wills wanted a response from Spencer. "He got the message when we got someone up," Wills smiled later. "I told him to challenge the hitters - he was trying to be too fine."
Spencer (4-3) ended up taking a three-hit shutout into the seventh inning. He was replaced after Jeff Hurni delivered his first professional homer to lead off the seventh and Jeff Allison followed with a double, but Butte still had a solid 5-1 lead.
"We hit the ball hard but right at people," said Trapper manager Barry Moss.
The Copper Kings, meanwhile, hardly did as much damage to Trapper starter Willie Ambos as Idaho Falls did last Thursday, but managed to knock Ambos (6-2) out in the seventh. Ambos had won a league-high six games without a loss before being ripped for seven first-inning runs at Idaho Falls and is now working to recover with sharper breaking stuff and better location of his fastball.
"He's been struggling a little, so we're concerned, but we'll work it out," said Moss.
"I was satisfied with a lot of pitches I was throwing," said Ambos, "whereas in Idaho Falls it seemed like they knew what pitch was coming. I felt strong, I felt confident, but they got the bleeders at the wrong time . . . I can't expect to go out there every time and be totally in control."
Butte scored in the second inning when Mike Spear doubled off the left-field wall and Bill Losa dropped a single into right field. Three straight singles and Trey McCoy's sacrifice fly made it 2-0 in the third and the Trappers lapsed defensively in the fourth when Chris Colon's line-drive skipped past Boyce in left field. Spear scored from third and Joe Lewis from first on the single and two-base error with Colon ending up on the third, in position to score on Joe Wardlow's single for a 5-0 lead.
After Japanese reliever Denny Tomori worked out of trouble for Butte in the seventh, the Trappers again left the bases loaded in the eighth and Butte added three runs in the ninth off reliever Lee Carballo. Tomori needed help from Tim MacNiel to finish off the Trappers in the bottom of the ninth, but Kerry Shaw's single brought home the only run.
The win was Butte's first in five tries at Derks this season and assured the Copper Kings of staying close to the division leaders at least through this series. "Every series with Salt Lake is important to us," was all Wills would say.
TRAPPER NOTES: Designated hitter Marty Peralta left the game in the eighth inning after a Tomori pitch struck his batting helmet. Peralta complained of dizziness, but was otherwise uninjured . . . Butte collected 17 hits, with Spear's 4-for-5 night giving him seven hits in two games . . . McCoy's two RBI raised his league-leading total to 53; the Trappers' Kelly Zane went 1 for 3 to drop his league-leading average to .440.