After giving up a combined 19 runs on 32 hits in their first two games of their current series against the Fresno Grizzlies, the Salt Lake Bees were in desperate need of a well-pitched ballgame.
They got it from their least-experienced starter.
Anthony Ortega, in just his second game at the triple-A level, led the Bees to a 5-3 victory Sunday afternoon at Franklin Covey Field. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the PCL Pacific North Division leaders.
"It was huge for us as a team to have our starting pitcher step up like that," said Bees manager Bobby Mitchell. " He pitched really well. Both of his two outings have been good."
Ortega, a 22-year-old native of Venezuela, wasn't overpowering, as he had just one strikeout all game. But he threw strikes and allowed his teammates to get him out of some jams with double plays and good defense.
"I feel good," said Ortega about his outing. "I throw my breaking pitch for strikes, and I had control of my fastball and had good command."
Indeed. Of his 92 pitches thrown, 62 were strikes. Ortega walked just one Fresno batter.
"My teammates play good defense," explained Ortega. "It's better for me (to) throw one pitch for (an) out than throw six pitches for a strikeout."
The Bees jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on a solo homer by Kendry Morales and added four more runs in the fifth with RBIs by Freddy Sandoval, Brandon Wood, Bobby Wilson and Adam Pavkovich to take a 5-0 lead.
The Grizzlies didn't score until the eighth inning, when they plated an unearned run after a fielding error by the Bees.
In the top of the ninth, however, things got interesting. Fresno roughed up Bees reliever Henry Bonilla, scoring a pair of runs. The Grizzlies even had the tying runs in scoring position with one out when Bees reliever Darren O'Day got Fresno's Ben Copeland to line into double play to Salt Lake second baseman Gary Patchett.
"It was a big win, there is no doubt about it," said Mitchell. "That's why Ortega's performance was so huge. If we can just get some momentum going here, we'll be fine."
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