In the Trappers' first three games, things went down to the last of the ninth inning twice, and Wednesday night's game wasn't decided until the sixth inning.
But Thursday night, at home in Derks Field for the first time this season, with 7,313 Trapper clappers on hand to judge whether this will be another team of destiny, it took just one inning to establish dominance for the night.Fred Riscen struck out the first three Idaho Falls Braves to face him, and first baseman Greg Ehmig smashed a two-run homer in the left-center power alley to score Kerry Shaw after Kelly Zane had walked and scored on a balk. The Traps exited the first with a 3-0 lead.
Riscen went on to strike out 13, including five of the first six, and wound up with a two-hit shutout and the team's first distance pitching performance.
The Trappers went on to a 5-0 victory, their third win in four games.
Riscen professed a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude, saying he wanted to show the major-league scouts they were wrong in passing him by because of six months of shoulder problems. "I know what I can do," he said. "I don't want to sound cocky, but you've got to have confidence, and I'm not a big guy, and I don't throw real hard, so I've got to be a little cocky."
Trapper Manager Barry Moss had saved Riscen specifically for this night for two reasons. Riscen's shoulder inflammation could be dealt with better in a large park. "I think he's more comfortable challenging hitters here than he would be in a smaller park," Moss said.
And, Moss reasoned, Riscen has thrown before crowds of such size before when his Texas A&M teams met Texas.
"Oh yeah, I love playing in front of a lot of people," Riscen said.
And pitching with a zero on the board for the other team was a double kick. "Those last few innings, I got really pumped up with those goose eggs on the scoreboard still. I wanted to go after it," Riscen said.
"He knows how to pitch," Moss said. "He had some hitters overmatched, and he's going to strike them out."
The crowd didn't hurt Ehmig either, although his college, South Carolina-Aiken, was never likely to fill 7,300 seats at one time.
"Playing in front of 8,000 people helped a lot," said Ehmig, admitting some nervousness during warmups when he saw people pouring in. But, he said, "It was nice to sign autographs for the little guys and girls," and that excitement was released on his swing on a low, inside fastball.
"I like to see him taking mistakes the other pitchers make and turning them around," said Moss. "He's been coming through in the clutch." Ehmig had a three-run homer Tuesday at Butte.
Moss, however, wants more hitting, something he's been saying all week. The Traps had eight hits Thursday against four Idaho Falls pitchers, but two were infield hits.
Moss finally got the distance out of a starting pitcher that he'd been asking for to save on a short relief staff, and now, "I'd like to see us swinging the bats better. I'm not satisfied with the hitting and run production." He said the No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters - Shaw (3 for 4), Ehmig (1 for 3) and Mando Verdugo (1 for 4) should be doing better - and will soon.
The first hit off Riscen came in the third inning when Steve Lopez led off with a single to left-center. After two were out, Riscen hit Daryl Blanks with a pitch, but Ramces Guerrero grounded to third baseman Tim McKercher, who stepped on the bag to force Lopez. That was the Braves' rally for the night.
John Albertson singled with two out in the fourth, but no one else reached base - Riscen mowed down the last 16 with a combination of strikeouts and plays by the infield and outfield.
The Trappers' Jeff Allison walked to open their offense in the first but was out stealing at second before Zane walked, took Shaw's single to third and was balked in. It was the first of four Braves' balks and the first of two times that Zane would score on balks. After walking in the fourth, he stole second and was balked to third and then home.
Allison scored the game's other run in the second when he reached base after striking out because the pitch eluded the catcher. Zane's single that bounced crazily off third base took Allison to second, a ground out sent him to third and Verdugo's single drove him in.
The same two teams play at Derks Field tonight at Saturday, both at 7 o'clock. Terence Glover will start on the mound for the Trappers. He was the opening-day starter, and Moss has gone to a four-man rotation, thought he'd hoped to use five.