It was one of those nights for Freddy Sandoval and the rest of the Salt Lake Bees.
One night after a nine-run smackdown at the hands of the Tucson Sidewinders, Salt Lake (77-57) turned in what manager Bobby Mitchell called one of the best defensive nights of the season and scored just enough runs to win 6-2 Saturday night at Franklin Covey Field.
Sandoval was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, including a hit that took an odd bounce over first baseman Frank Curreri's head and into right field to break open a tense pitcher's duel. Sandoval had an equally impressive performance at third, going Brooks Robinson-esque on the hot corner with multiple stops to prevent Tucson (57-75) from taking another game on the road.
"No matter what position you play, you're always looking for that big play that turns the game around," Sandoval said. "You just hope you're at the right place at the right time."
The Sidewinders started out quickly again Saturday night, scoring on Jesus Merchan's RBI single to center field to make the score 1-0, but Salt Lake answered back in the bottom half of the inning. Brad Coon got on base on a errant throw, much like he had done in the previous night's game. Two batters later, Brandon Wood hit a two-run homer that barely cleared the wall in left-center.
The first-inning scoring would be the only runs either team would muster until the Bees broke it open in the seventh inning. Nick Green pitched seven innings with six strikeouts, allowing three hits and one earned run to pick up the win. Mitchell said the pitching effort helped tremendously.
"We played great defense tonight, which was good because we had a one-run lead for a long time," Mitchell said. "I thought Green deserved an outing like that tonight, and when you get ground balls, it's easy to win some ball games."
Sandoval showed off his glove in the sixth inning, diving to his left, scooping up a fast ground ball and throwing out the Tucson runner. The next batter popped up a bunt just to the third-base side of the pitcher's mound, but Sandoval was right there for a diving catch to end the inning.
The Bees blew the door wide open in the seventh, as Bobby Wilson hit an RBI single up the gap to score one run. Two batters later, Brandon Wood was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score another run. Sandoval then followed up his defensive highlights with the two-run double that made it 6-1 for Salt Lake.
"I knew two runs wasn't going to win this thing," Mitchell said. "It turned out that way. That four-run inning was huge for us to get some momentum. You lose two in a row at home, and it can snowball on you fast."
Salt Lake got into a little bit of a jam in the eighth when designated hitter Jamie D'Antona hit a bases-loaded RBI single to left to cut the lead to 6-2, but Sandoval ended the scoring threat, backhanding a grounder down the third-base line and gunning down the runner.BEELINES: Salt Lake ends regular-season play at home tomorrow. With 15,807 in attendance tonight, the Bees only need 4,671 fans to surpass the half-million mark in total attendance. According to various media outlets, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he will leave some offense down in Salt Lake City for the playoffs, and make call-ups a little later. Mitchell said he's heard nothing about the Angels' September plans.