A Trapper error to lead off an inning nearly came back to haunt the Salt Lakers two night in a row.
But Saturday night in front of 7,865 at Derks Field, the Traps got out of a big Idaho Falls inning that could have been bigger and kept their win.Idaho Falls scored three in the ninth - it had rallied for six in the seventh on Friday after an error put the leadoff man on.
Saturday, Salt Lake took a 7-5 victory over the Braves after leading 7-1 from the fourth until the seventh, to run its record to 4-2 and the Braves' mark to 2-4.
That concludes the season-opening homestand. The Traps head to Butte for games tonight and Monday night, then return to Derks Tuesday to face Pocatello for four games.
Trapper first baseman Greg Ehmig hit his fourth home run of the week and third of the homestand, this one a solo shot in the third inning.
"All in all," said winning pitcher Willie Ambos, who threw all but one Trapper pitch in the game, "the defense helped me more than hurt me.
"You throw out two runners at the plate, that's big, that's a momentum-gainer, and that pumps me up," said Ambos, talking about a Tommy Boyce throw-in from left in the sixth to keep any runs from scoring and a Rick Hurni throw in the seventh to help halt an Idaho Falls rally and hold it to one run rather than two or more.
An eighth-inning double play helped Ambos, too, but in the ninth, with the Trappers up 7-2, and error at short put Keith LeClair on first, and a wild pitch took him to second. From there, Chris Jones singled LeClair home and went to second on a passed ball.
But shortstop Ray Karczewski threw to third to get Jones on a Daryl Blanks ground ball, and third baseman Tim McKercher reached low to nab a line drive by Ramces Guerrero for the second out before BYU's Gary Schoonover punched an up-the-middle single to move Blanks to third. Blanks scored on Kevin Henry's infield single, and Donovan Campbell hit a run-scoring double.
Ambos, who's had a sore shoulder that tightened up on him Tuesday and who allowed 14 hits, finally had to leave in favor of sidearmer Michael Gibbons, who threw one pitch and got Steve Lopez to pop out to Karczewski to end the game.
"I'd like to have finished the job," said Ambos, "but I threw well enough to win, and fortunately we did win."
Ambos credited trainer Jeff McFarland's between-innings rub-downs and icing for helping him go the distance, or nearly the distance. "The original plan was for me to go seven innings if possible," said Ambos.
But he was doing well enough to continue, and the decision was made to let him stay in. "I wanted to go for it and stretch it out and see how far I could take it," Ambos said. He has a knot in the rhomboid muscle that was caused by changing his arm angle when he pitches because of previous shoulder surgery. "I'll look like Quasimodo tomorrow," he said.
"They had 14 hits," he said in his defense, "but only four were tagged real good. I wasn't worried about the others. If I'm on, I throw a lot of strikes."
"I'm satisfied with the games," said Trapper Manager Barry Moss, "but I'd like to see us make the big defensive play late. We did it in the first two games in Butte, and I think we will again, but we're not coming through with the big play to bail us out in the late innings."
The Trappers had just seven hits, but Ehmig's homer, a triple by Kerry Shaw and a double by Mando Verdugo helped the hitting look better. "We're all starting to swing the bats better," Moss said.
The Trappers also lived up to their preseason billing as a running team, the outfielders making some long running plays and the club stealing six bases, all in the first four innings when they did all of their scoring.
Moss notes that Idaho Falls' relief staff is as short as the Trappers', and , "We needed to run to make them go to the bullpen early. The stolen bases kept the pressure on them."
Hurni had two steals in the second inning, and McKercher also stole in the inning, and McKercher also stole in the inning. Both Trappers scored on a Karczewski hit.
That gave Salt Lake a 2-0 lead. The Traps added two in the third to make it 4-1 on Ehmig's homer and Verdugo's double. Verdugo scored on consecutive wild pitches. They put together three in the fourth. Karczewski and Jeff Allison singled, and Kelly Zane hit a sacrifice fly to left that scored Karczewski and sent Allison home on a bad throw. Shaw then tripled and scored on a wild pitch to give Salt Lake a 7-1 lead that lasted until the seventh, when an in-field hit by the Braves' Jones turned into one run.
Blanks singled, Guerrero was hit by a pitch and Schoonover had an RBI single but Blanks was thrown out at home and Ambos struck out Kevin Henry to end the inning.