The final three innings have been a nightmare for the Salt Lake Buzz so far this season.
They've been outscored 34-13 in the seventh, eighth and ninth and have only won one game when trailing after those three frames.Thursday night at Franklin Quest Field, the Buzz found themselves leading 7-5 heading into the final third of the game, but the Buzz's struggling bullpen pulled them through their "Bermuda Triangle."
Taking over for starter Benj Sampson in the sixth, Gus Gandarillas fired a scoreless sixth, seventh and eighth innings, and Fred Rath followed with a scoreless ninth to lead the Buzz (10-8) to their fourth-straight victory with a 10-5 decision over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
"That's what they are suppose to do. Keep the ball in the ballpark and throw ground balls," Salt Lake manager Phil Roof said of the effort out of the bullpen.
The Buzz have, however, shown signs of life offensively in the last four games by pounding out 11, 10, 13, and 11 hits in their last four games - but Roof gives some of the offensive credit to the pitching.
"First, you need good pitching, and the hitting will come," he said. "We are starting to show some signs."
Leading 1-0, the Buzz added to its lead in the third inning as the first four hitters - Esteban Beltre, Jon Shave, Corey Koskie and Chad Rupp - reached base and eventually scored. Rupp's two-run single scored Beltre and Shave, while Brian Buchanan and Scott Stahoviak had RBI groundouts to score Koskie and Rupp.
Colorado Springs' Edgard Clemente trimmed the Buzz lead to 4-3 with a three-run homer of Sampson.
The Buzz re-padded its lead in the bottom of the inning.
Beltre, who scored three times in the games, singled again to start the fourth, stole second and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Stahoivak. Shave, who walked, scored on Buchanan's single to give the Buzz the commanding 7-3 lead.
The Sky Sox added two more runs in the fifth off of Sampson, before Gandarillas and Rath held them scoreless in the final four innings.
The Buzz added to its lead with something they haven't done all year at home - score a run in the seventh inning - to increase their lead to 8-5, and Stahoviak belted a towering two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth for more insurance.
The three through seven hitters - Buchanan, Rupp, Stahoviak, Buchanan and Jamie Ogden - combined to go 8-for-18 with 10 RBI. Odgen led the group with three hits and three RBI.
Clemente finished 1-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs for the Sky Sox.
The two clubs square off tonight a 7 p.m. in the second game of the four-game set as Salt Lake's Travis Baptist (LHP, 3-0, 0.98 ERA) battles Colorado Springs' Mike Vavrek (LHP, 1-3, 12.74 ERA).
BEE LINES: Ten of Salt Lake's 11 hits Thursday were singles . . . Buzz outfielder Chris Latham was promoted to the parent Minnesota Twins Tuesday night to fill in after Otis Nixon was placed on the disabled list . . . Heading into Thursday's game, the Buzz (6,045) were third in the league in average attendance behind league-leading Oklahoma (8,030) and New Orleans (7,014). They drew 6,259 fans Thursday.