Before he walked up to the plate in a tie ballgame in the 10th inning, Sean Rodriguez got a little advice in the dugout from a trusted friend, then promptly blasted a low slider with one out for three-run rainbow shot to left center field to end the game Friday night.
"Right before the at-bat, Sean asked me what he should do, and I told him to just finish it," third baseman Freddy Sandoval said. "He was thinking about taking a strike, and I told him to just swing, and luckily he got the slider to end the game."
Rodiguez's blast was part of his three-hit, five-RBI night that helped the Salt Lake Bees continue their winning streak and take the first game of the series against the Sacramento River Cats, 9-6.
"I wasn't trying to swing for the fences, I was just trying to catch it," Rodriguez said. "Freddy told me to go get 'em, and I was feeling confident because I knew if I didn't get 'em , he would. "
Just an hour before, the outcome wasn't so obvious.
Catcher Landon Powell got the River Cats out of the gates quickly with a solo home run to right field in the first inning, but the Bees stuck back when Sandoval hit a two-run double to left to put Salt Lake back on top. The Bees tried to tack on some more runs, but ended up stranding two runners.
Sacramento answered in the second with another solo home run, this time by left fielder Brett Conrad, and added again to the lead in the next inning when it scored two more runs to make it a 4-2 game.
The Bees answered back and cut the lead to one with a solo shot of their own, this one off a line drive to left by Matt Brown.
In the top of the fourth, Sacramento capitalized on a new Bee pitcher. In his first at-bat as a River Cat, Eric Patterson sent a two-run home run to right to give Sacramento a commanding 6-3 lead.
The Bees tried to bounce back in the bottom of the sixth. Rodriguez hit a two-run double off the wall in left-center to make it 6-5. It looked like the momentum had shifted Salt Lake's way, but things promptly ended when Salt Lake again stranded runners.
Shortstop Brandon Wood tied the game at 6 with a solo shot to the right field concourse in the seventh inning, and things stayed that way until Rodriguez brought a long game to a merciful end.
Manager Bobby Mitchell said afterward that the confidence brimming within Rodriguez and Sandoval was what helped bring the team back."The team's confidence is definitely growing," Mitchell said. "Sandoval is as hot as anyone. He's hitting everything right now; he's hitting it all over the place. Even his outs are line drives. When you do that, it gets contagious."