The Idaho Falls Braves made life miserable for the Salt Lake Trappers last season, winning eight of 14 games even though they won only 20 more from the rest of the Pioneer League.
Monday night, in the 1989 season opener for both teams, the Braves were just as ornery, although the Trappers survived to post their first win, 11-10, at McDermott Field.The two clubs play there again tonight, with 6-foot-6 Mike Ashworth the scheduled Trapper pitcher, and then they move to Derks Field for the Trappers' home opener on Wednesday night.
Salt Lake once held an 8-2 lead after falling behind 2-0 in the first inning. But the Trappers gave up two runs with two away in the ninth inning, and the Braves had the tying run on second base when reliever Tom Studstill finally got Ramces Guerrero to ground out for the save.
Tony St. John took the win in relief of starter Mark Deushane. It was St. John's first professional victory, although he pitched a few games for Salt Lake last season.
All three Trapper pitchers had their struggles, Deushane tying a Pioneer League record by hitting four batters and the club tying the Pioneer mark with six hit batsmen, St. John hitting two more. Studstill gave up a freaky infield hit when Chris Sparrow's ball to third baseman Mike Grace took a sudden high hop. All Grace could do was knock it down, and that gave Idaho Falls two baserunners with none out in the ninth.
Jim Baranoski popped to Studstill, who dropped the ball, but Baranoski was ruled out on the infield-fly rule as the runners advanced a base each.
Chris Burton then smashed a two-out, two-run double to the left-field corner before Studstill got Guererro to ground out to Ed Garczyk at second.
Guerrero had hit a two-run homer in the sixth against St. John. An RBI double by Lionel Adams then gave the Braves their second straight three-run inning that cut the Trapper lead to 10-8.
It was close to being closer, but St. John had gotten Baranoski to ground out with bases loaded to end the fifth, and the Traps turned three double plays.
For the Trappers, who finished second in the Pioneer South last season, returning shortstop Ray Karczewski, hitting at the bottom of the order, was 3 for 4 with with four RBI and two doubles.
Nine Trappers scored runs and eight had hits. Center fielder Pat Waid, left fielder Travis Tarchione and catcher Mike Bible had two hits each. Waid led off and hit the first pitch of the game for a single, following it with a stolen base, but he was stranded there.
A three-run second inning gave the Trappers the lead they'd hold through the rest of the game. Designated hitter Gerard Giustino singled to open, Bible reached by error and Grace singled to load bases for Garczyk, who walked to drive in a run. Karczewski singled in the other two.
In the five-run third, there were five Trapper hits, and Giustino and Grace drove in a run each with sacrifice flies. Karczewski had a two-run double, and an error at short allowed in the other score.
The Trappers got the critical 11th run in the ninth when Tarchione singled and stole second while teammates Joe Beaulac and Giustino committed the club's 11th and 12th strikeouts, and Bible drove in the game-winner with a two-out single.