With some teams, the Salt Lake Trappers can afford to make a mistake. They're finding out the hard way that Great Falls is not one of those teams.
The Dodgers rode a legitimate hit, an error, a walk and two late throws on infield ground balls to four runs in the top of the ninth inning Friday night before 7,809 in Derks Field, breaking open a 3-3 game and beating the Trappers 7-3.It was the third straight time the Dodgers have beaten the Trappers this week, and the two teams meet in an unscheduled doubleheader tonight at Derks, starting at 5:30 p.m. The first game today will be a makeup of Thursday's rainout in Great Falls, and the Dodgers will be the home team.
They play again Sunday afternoon and Monday night - getting the whole season series out of the way in one swoop.
And the Dodgers are the ones doing the swooping so far.
The Traps have fallen one-half game behind Butte in the Southern Division after starting this series against Great Falls two games ahead of Butte.
"They are a team that we're not going to get an easy inning on," said Trapper Manager Barry Moss, who's not so much tired of losing to the Dodgers as the way he's losing to the Dodgers.
"I'm worried about our defensive play. We're a better defensive team than that."
"These guys know how to make the plays. What's happening is a surprise to me. We've been real solid all year, and now all of a sudden we're starting to make some mistakes. That I'm worried about," Moss said.
It happened a couple of times at home, once in the fifth when a throw pulled catcher Mando Verdugo up the line and Eddy Pye ducked under his desperation tag.
It happened in the ninth twice, perpetuating the winning inning.
Lance Rice walked to lead off the inning and, after a called strikeout by Sean Johnson, Pye got an infield hit when first baseman Greg Ehmig fielded a ball and was indecisive. Johnson covered the base late, and Ehmig's throw was off the mark.
Don Carroll walked, and Jose Offerman, the first man to face second reliever Michael Gibbons, hit a grounder to Kelly Zane at second. Zane went for the force at home, but his throw pulled Verdugo off the base to score Rice. Jerry Brooks' hit down the left-field line spelled more trouble.
Pye and Carroll scored, and Offerman kept coming home when the throw-in from left field went closer to the Dodger dugout than the playing field.
Brooks, the night's best hitter with three singles and three RBI, had been an important out in the eighth inning when Dodger Manager Tim Johnson sent him home on a fly ball to medium right. Rick Hurni, installed in right at the start of the inning for just such a defensive purpose, nailed Brooks at home to preserve the 3-3 tie for the moment.
"I'm very aggressive," said Johnson. "We run pretty good, and I'm going to chance it. It had to be a good throw. I like to make something happen."
That's been good strategy.
"We're allowing them too many outs in an inning," said Moss, thinking of the times Dodger runners were kept alive. "This is what happened in a disastrous inning in Great Falls where we gave them six or seven outs," Moss added.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers were snuffing Trappers who made scoring position. "We must hit better with runners on base," said Moss, aware his team left men on third base four times without scoring.
Twice Dodger reliever Jon Braase - a native of Idaho Falls, Idaho - threw strikeouts for the third out against Trappers when there were men on third. "It's a credit to the pitchers," said Johnson. "They take a lot of heat off the manager."