For me, I was really trying to put something hard into play. —Jabari Blash
SALT LAKE CITY — In the third inning of Saturday’s series opening game between Albuquerque and Salt Lake, Bees right-fielder Jabari Blash ripped a line shot that screamed over the center field wall.
Blash’s blast was a league leading seventh homer, but the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder wasn’t done. With the Bees leading 7-6 in the fifth, Blash uncorked a tape-measure shot that nearly cleared the 40-foot batter's eye behind the center field wall 420 feet away.
Blash’s seventh and eighth homers, along with solo shots from Ryan Schimpf and Sherman Johnson, helped the Bees slip past the Isotopes, 8-6.
“For me, I was really trying to put something hard into play,” Blash said. “We were up by a run, and we had to get some momentum going, so my focus there was to keep my swing short and try to put something into play.”
Blash’s blasts were part of an offensive onslaught from the Bees, who ripped the cover off the Isotope pitching with 13 hits, seven for extra bases.
The Salt Lake offense put up two runs in the bottom of the second as David Fletcher ripped a one-out single to left. Designated hitter Kaleb Cowart singled to left, scoring Fletcher. Cowart advanced to second where he was driven in by first baseman Jose Fernandez.
The Isotopes stranded runners at first and third in the second while the Bees extended their lead to 3-0 on the strength of a lead-off solo homer from second baseman Schimpf.
Bees starting pitcher Dylan Unsworth, solid through two innings, allowed singles to Raimel Tapia and Derrick Gibson before Albuquerque first baseman, Josh Fuentes cleared the bases with a towering, two-run shot. Unsworth allowed a triple and finally a two-run homer to DH, Anthony Bemboom as the Isotopes grabbed a 6-3 lead after three.
Blash helped close that gap in the third with a two-run shot off Isotope starter Matt Flemer.
Unsworth settled down in the fourth, with a three-up, three-out inning and the Bees regained the lead, 7-6 as Sherman Johnson homered and Fletcher scored on a Cowart double to right.
While Blash’s tape measure shot in the fifth had the press-box scrambling for an accurate distance, the right fielder was more interested in getting the win than finding out the distance of his shot.
“We got Dylan his first win, and the 13 hits is something that I think we are definitely capable of,” Blash said.
Unsworth was relieved to start the sixth, having given up six hits and six runs while earning his first win of the season. The Bees used a trio of relievers, Adam Hofacket, Justin Anderson and Jordan Jankowski to close out the game with Jankowski earning his first save of the season.
“Our bullpen is the back end of the team, especially when we have the lead,” Blash said. “It's great to put some runs up and hold them down; that’s a good way to win a lot of games.”
The Bees host the Isotopes at Smith’s Ballpark on Sunday with the first pitch slated for 1:05 p.m.