Obviously a little bit of that can be attributed to having three days off. But these guys are professionals. Every guy out there expects himself to make those plays, expects himself to execute in those situations. —Bees manager Keith Johnson
SALT LAKE CITY — Three days off for the PCL all-star game unfortunately left the Salt Lake Bees a little rusty.
Although the Bees had opportunities to recover with runners on base in the final two innings against Sacramento, the rally was too little too late as the team fell in a 10-7 decision to the River Cats after being away from Spring Mobile Ballpark for a full week.
“Obviously a little bit of that can be attributed to having three days off,” said Bees manager Keith Johnson. “But these guys are professionals. Every guy out there expects himself to make those plays, expects himself to execute in those situations.”
The Bees had a chance to take over when designated hitter Roberto Lopez stepped to the plate in the eighth inning. With two outs and two runners on base, the right-handed hitter sent a two-RBI triple to the left-field fence. An outfielder throwing error allowed Lopez to score as well, pulling the Bees to within one run, 8-7.
Bees catcher John Hester then ended the top of the ninth when he connected with shortstop Andrew Romine to catch Adam Rosales on an attempt to steal second base.
Salt Lake had a final opportunity to rally in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, two outs, and Efren Navarro — the team’s best batter with a .347 average — at the plate. He watched two low strikes go by and struck out swinging on the third pitch to end the game.
“When we had our opportunities to execute we didn’t,” Johnson said. “(Sacramento) took advantage of it and it showed up on the scoreboard.”
For most of the game, the Bees’ offense had a hard time stringing together productive innings. However, it was pitching and defense that squashed any momentum the Salt Lake bats could build.
Starting pitcher Dustin Richardson struggled to open the game, walking five batters and giving up eight runs, seven of them earned, in his 4 1/3 innings on the mound.
“We gave them some extra opportunities early throwing the ball around the infield,” Johnson said. “They placed some balls short of our outfielders who couldn’t get a good read on it in the sun, and they were able to put up that big inning and that was kind of our downfall.”
The River Cats used five hits, including back-to-back doubles, in the top of the third inning to plate five runs. The visitors held a 6-4 lead by the end of that inning and, although the Bees closed the gap to a single run two different times, they could not overcome the early deficit.
Third baseman Tommy Field finished 3 for 5 with a run and an RBI while Chris Nelson and Lopez each contributed two RBIs.
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.