Just about the time it looked like the Salt Lake Trappers were going to do a repeat performance of Friday night's game, Randy White arrived on the scene to preserve a narrow 6-5 victory over Butte Saturday night at Derks Field.
Talk about being put on the spot. White was called on to relieve Jeff Hagy with two runners on base, no outs, up by one run in the top of the ninth inning. But if he was unnerved, it didn't show. Given the signal, he didn't jog onto the field; he sprinted. He proceded to strike out two batters and, walked one to load the bases, and then got the third batter to ground out.For the Trappers, who face Butte again today (1:30), it was the their third victory in four outings this season. For the Copper Kings, widely considered the best team in the Southern Division of the Pioneer League, it was their first loss of the season in four games.
The Trappers would not have had to rely on White's late-game heroics if not for a few bungled plays in the field. On Friday they dropped an 8-4 decision to Idaho Falls largely because of six errors. On Saturday night they committed four of them - including two in the final inning. The Trappers had built a 6-3 lead thanks to a big fifth inning, but then the Kings rallied, with a little help. They picked up an unearned run in the seventh when pitcher Gary Boone mishandled a bunt.
The Trappers spent the rest of the night escaping disaster. In the eighth inning Hagy was called in to relieve Boone with the bases loaded. He struck out Shannon Penn, who already had a double and a triple during the night.
In the ninth inning, down 6-4, Jon Shane and Miguel Castellano both singled, then advanced a base on an error by center fielder Mike Moberg. Brian Moutan hit a hard shot to shortstop John Urcioli to score Shane. Urcioli's throw to first was high, putting two men on base and no out.
On came White. "It was awesome," he would say. "That's a situation I like."
White began by striking out designated hitter Greg Blevin. Then he struck out Melvin Matos. But then, oops, with a full count and two men on, he walked left-handed batter Todd Guggiana to load the bases.
"I didn't want to walk him, but I felt more relaxed with the bases loaded because I knew I had a righty coming up," he said.
The righty was catcher Victor Reyes. He slapped the third pitch to Ucioli, who threw to second for the force and the win.
"That's his (White's) second save in four games," said Trapper manager Nick Belmonte. "All of a sudden he's come on. He's got the mental toughness for situations like that."
Aside from pitching, the Trappers actually won the game clear back in the fifth inning. Tied at 3-all, the Trappers scored three runs. Butch Harris, who had two singles, sliced a pop fly into the corner in right field to score third baseman Tom Duffin, who got on base four times, on two hits, a walk and being hit by a pitch. Urcioli followed with a single to score Jim Doyle and Ed Garczyk drove in Doyle on a fielder's choice.