The Salt Lake Bees may someday fall out of first place in their Pacific Coast League division.
Just not yet.
On Wednesday night the Bees rallied from a four-run deficit to stay atop the PCL's Pacific Northern Division with a 6-5 win over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox in front of 6,199 fans at Franklin Covey Field.
The Bees, which have been in first for nearly 13 months dating back to May 23, 2006 entered Wednesday night's game against second place Colorado Springs with a tenuous half-game lead in the division. A loss would have moved the Sky Sox to the top position in the division.
And when Bees starter Kasey Olenberger got off to a rough start, it looked like the Bees' divisional lead would be history. Colorado Springs' Ian Stewart hit a three-run home run in the third and Doug Bernier ripped a two-run homer in the fifth off of Olenberger.
But Olenberger settled down to pitch seven innings, holding the Sky Sox scoreless after the fourth.
"Olenberger didn't have his best stuff, but he pitched through the seventh inning and battled and kept us in the game," said Bees manager Brian Harper.
After falling behind 5-1, the Bees got back into the game with a two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth. Catcher Ryan Budde had a run-scoring double to center, followed by a two-run single by Adam Pavkovich, cutting the gap to 5-4. Salt Lake knotted the score at 5-5 in the fifth inning when Brandon Wood doubled and later scored on Terry Evans' single.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the eighth inning when Matt Brown singled, Budde walked and Pavkovich singled to load the bases with no outs. Tommy Murphy then hit a sacrifice fly to center and Brown scored the game-winning run.
"Getting down 5-1 like that and then being able to come back shows the character of these guys," said Harper.Comment on this story
Marcus Gwen hurled a pair of scoreless innings of relief to earn the victory for Salt Lake, his first win of the year. Gwyn has been Salt Lake's best reliever all season with eight saves and a 1.45 ERA in 26 appearances.
The Sky Sox may have won the first two games in the three-game series, but the Bees managed to remain in first place, now 1 1/2 games ahead of Colorado Springs.
"It was tough losing a series. You never want to lose a series at home," said Harper. "But we avoided being swept and we rallied to get a win and that was a big thing."The Bees begin a road trip tonight when they face the Beavers in Portland. The two teams will have a regular four-game series and finish a suspended game as well during the next four nights. The Bees and Beavers were tied 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning on May 2 when the game was suspended due to rain. It will be completed prior to Friday's regularly scheduled game.