They packed Derks Field for Hammerin' Hank Aaron - who threw the first pitch, said a few encouraging words, did an inning or so on the radio with Trapper announcer Kurt Wilson and then was gone - leaving 9,064 to be entertained by the young men on the playing field.
The homeboys didn't disappoint.John Thoden, the Pioneer League's No. 2 pitcher going into Tuesday night's game with a 1.75 ERA but a guy who'd had his best games on the road, spun the Traps' first complete-game shutout of 1992 for a 9-0 win against Medicine Hat. The Traps went 6-1 on the homestand.
The win takes the 36-17 Trappers to first place. The Helena Brewers move to second with 35-18 in the Pioneer South. The Trappers bus to Lethbridge for a seven-game trip starting Thursday.
As on Monday when leadoff man Pookie Wilson twisted a knee in a collision at first, the Traps suffered more early inning injuries Tuesday.
Billy Vosik was hit in the head by a pitch in the three-run first inning but completed the game after clearing the cobwebs. In the second, George Baker twisted an ankle getting picked off second. He left the game, but manager Nick Belmonte said it's a mild sprain.
Belmonte also considers Wilson's knee a sprain and took him on the trip hoping it will improve. It could also be a season-ending injury, he said.
Thoden can't explain why he's been better on the road. "I know it's not the crowd," he said.
"We've seen him do what he did tonight in Billings, Great Falls, Helena . . . " said Belmonte.
"I felt like I was due for a good outing here," said Thoden, who combined with John Gilligan for Salt Lake's only other shutout July 21 in Great Falls.
"At the beginning of the game, it was tough: long innings, injuries, Hank Aaron, the road trip; there's a chance guys might not have their minds on the game, but you could tell we had great concentration," Thoden said.
"We had great offense and outstanding defense - balls hitting players' gloves and going to another player (for outs). And it's a lot easier when you have a three-run lead in the first, as long as you keep your concentration," Thoden said. He thanked catchers Baker and Randy Snyder for calling a game that kept him focused.
Thoden struck out seven, walked one and allowed six hits, never more than one an inning. Matt Johnson, who tripled to right in the first, was the only Jay to make it as far as second base until the eighth, when Jose Herrera singled, stole second and died there.
Salt Lake opened with a sun-aided double by Rich Palumbo followed by Vosik's HBP and Tim Clark's RBI double. Vosik had to slide home head-first but scored on Kevin McMullen's sac fly. Clark scored on Todd Rosenthal's hit.
Shortstop Fred Samson made several showcase plays, Tim Merrick went long for catches in center and Thoden caught a popup and doubled off a runner.
The Traps didn't score again until they got three in the sixth. They added another three in the eighth.
Merrick and Palumbo were each 3-for-4, Merrick with two doubles and Palumbo with the one, and J.D. Ramirez was 3-for-5 with two RBI, following his 4-for-4, three-run, two-RBI Monday game. "Tim really helped crank it open," noted Belmonte of Merrick, who is Wilson's center-field replacement.