On Tuesday, the Salt Lake Trappers found they can lose a big lead as well as anybody.
"I hope it will teach us a lesson," said relief pitcher Michael Gibbons, the sidearmer from Miami who threw the last two innings and held Butte scoreless with the help of two double plays to give the Trappers their second straight 7-6 victory."I don't know what we were thinking about. We got ahead and got flat," said Gibbons, talking about the way the Trappers took a 5-0 lead - a Greg Ehmig three-run homer being the big blow in their five-run third inning - and then gave up a five-run inning to the Copper Kings in the fifth to make it 5-5.
Salt Lake, which had fallen behind 6-0 on opening night and come back for a 7-6 win Monday, put across two more runs in the sixth on a Tim McKercher walk, Jeff Allison single, a misplay on Allison's hit in the outfield and a single by Kelly Zane to score Allison.
The Trappers' big third came when Allison singled and was balked to second. Zane singled him across, and Kerry Shaw reached by error. Tommy Boyce doubled in Zane, then rode Ehmig's homer home.
"We've got a lock on it," mused Trapper Manager Barry Moss about the 7-6 twin wins.
"We swung the bats a little better," said Moss, whose club had 11 hits to beat the five it had Monday, Allison and Zane each going 3 for 5 and Ehmig getting his first two hits of the season, "and the defense again came through and saved us.
"It was a real good outing by Gibbons. You couldn't ask for any more," he added.
Gibbons came on in relief of reliever SUSC's Blaine Reber in the eighth with men on second and third and none out and opened with a strikeout. Moss had Gibbons walk the Texas Rangers' No. 1 draft choice, Monty Fariss, to load the bases, and Gibbons got Trey McCoy to bounce the ball back to him. Gibbons threw to Mando Verdugo at home for the first out, and Verdugo completed the double play to first.
"I was very nervous in the pen," said Gibbons of his first pro appearance, "but once I got out there, it's the situation you want to be in."
Gibbons gave up a leadoff ninth-inning single to Bob Maurer but struck out Dominic Pierce and, after an infield single to Jeff Frey that Zane made a run-saving dive to stop, he got catcher Brad Losa to ground into a 4-3 double play, Zane getting the putout and assist from second.
Willie Ambos started on the mound for the Trappers and stuck around until the fifth. "He was cruising," said Moss, explaining that Ambos' sore shoulder suddenly stiffened. "He got tight and walked the next two. All of a sudden, the shoulder was locked."
Ambos was responsible for all five runs in the inning, but Moss was more concerned about the stress the shoulder soreness and resultant extra use of relief pitchers will put on his short staff this week.
The Trappers have only eight pitchers because the two Japanese imports have been held up by visa problems and their arrival is still uncertain. They've signed an extra pitcher, Sol Rolden, who will join them Thursday for the Derks Field opener, but Moss has had two use his short relievers in long situations in the first two games, and that worries him.
"We need a couple of guys to come through and go seven innings," he said, adding Ambos was probably only a pitch away from doing that. The problem may cause him to cut his pitching rotation to four men.
A sore shoulder also moved Shaw from third to designated hitter for Tuesday. With a lefty scheduled for Butte Wednesday night, Pat Waid will probably take over center and Bill Fellows will probably catch with Verdugo moving to DH, Moss said.