If Steven Spielberg knew anything, he would have cast Gus Gandarillas as an extra in "Saving Private Ryan." The Buzz pitcher showed he was fully apt to be torn limb from limb, blown apart and shelled by enemy fire. This was clear in the first inning of Monday night's game as he gave up nine runs on nine hits without recording an out before being yanked.
Like Spielberg's extras in the movie, Gandarillas died right in front of the entire audience. In this case it was the 8,704 fans at Franklin Covey Field.The gorefest found Salt Lake trailing 9-0 after the top of the first inning. Game over, right? Uh-uh.
Scott Stahoviak capped an amazing Buzz rally in the bottom of the ninth when he hit a two-out, three-run homer to give his team a 14-13 victory over the New Orleans Zephyrs. The blast went dead over the center field wall and also gave Stahoviak the seldom-seen "cycle" from the plate. He hit a single in the first, triple in the fourth and double in the sixth before the home run.
Stahoviak finished 4-6 with three RBI.
"That's a game we'll never forget," said a beaming Phil Roof. "I've never been involved in a game like that."
The Buzz manager has seen game-winning home runs before, but he's never seen a first inning quite like the one he witnessed on Monday.
After surrendering nine runs in the top of the first, Salt Lake countered with an eight-run bottom half. The inning, which took 1 hour and 5 minutes to complete, filled the scorebooks with 17 runs and 16 hits.
Even more amazing is that, while all nine of the Zephyrs' first-inning runs came before a single batter was retired, Salt Lake's came after the first two batters, Marc Lewis and Jon Shave, failed to reach base.
"I've never seen a first inning where so many runs have been scored," said Roof. "I've seen teams score eight or nine runs in the first but never both teams. It was wild."
Brian Buchanan hit a bases-loaded double to score Salt Lake's first two runs, and the hits just kept piling from there. Jamie Ogden singled home a pair, Mike Moriarty singled in another and Lewis, up for the second time in the inning, hit a three-run blast of his own.
The lead was cut to 9-8 and suddenly, what looked like a drubbing became interesting again.
The two teams traded runs until the Buzz finally tied the game in the seventh on a run scoring single by Corey Koskie. But New Orleans scored runs in both the eighth and ninth innings to go up 13-11.
Again the Buzz would look for a miracle rally, and again the first two Salt Lake batters were set down without making it to base.
"Even when we had two outs in the ninth I knew we had a chance," said Roof. "All we needed was one base runner."
They got two. Shave drew a walk from New Orleans' closer Reggie Harris - who Roof claims "was due for a loss" - which Koskie followed up with a double down the right field line.
That's when Stahoviak did his yard work.
"It just shows that we have a lot of character and shows what happens when you play the whole nine innings," said Stahoviak. "We could have laid down, but we proved we're not going to give up."
BEE LINES: Both teams used five pitchers in the game with Jeff Harris (6-0) being rewarded the win for Salt Lake. . . . Despite the win, the Buzz remain 51/2 games back of Fresno, which beat Tucson 2-1 in 10 innings on Monday. . . . Gandarillas has been used all season out of the bullpen and Monday was his first start of the year. It's likely one he won't be writing home about.