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TRAPPERS BLAST PAST PIONEERS FOR 16-1 VICTORY

Big leads in the first few innings of home games were disastrous for the Salt Lake Trappers a couple of weeks ago.

Friday night in Derks Field, a seven-run outburst to start the game was more like it ought to be.The now-confident Salt Lakers jumped all over Gate City 16-1 for their sixth straight victory after getting seven runs on eight hits and three Pioneer errors in the first inning.

After that, "All you do is pump strikes and help the batters get themselves out," said winning pitcher Ken Whitworth, 2-1.

Whitworth threw five innings allowing four hits and the one run, then was replaced by Pat Jurado, who's been with the team a week but hadn't been used in a game.

Manager Nick Belmonte began substituting freely in the fifth and sixth and wound up using 16 players, including the two pitchers. Of those who batted, only three of 14 didn't get hits in the 20-hit attack.

For Jurado, who came in with the score already fixed at 16-1 in the sixth, it was a pressure situation, since he hadn't pitched for the Traps before. "I went at everyone like it was 1-1 and the tying run was on second," he said. It showed. He surrendered one hit and no runs while striking out five. Whitworth had seven strikeouts.

Whitworth and outfielder Rich Bielski, who had a double and triple and four runs batted in during three official at-bats, both said the stunning way the Trappers won Thursday's game was a major contributing factor Friday.

On Thursday, the Trappers scored the winning run in a 7-6 game with two out in the bottom of the ninth when Rob Bargas doubled, stole third when Gate City players let down their guard, and then was forced in by three straight walks.

"It took the wind out of their sails, us coming back late last night," said Whitworth. "After we came out strong (in the first Friday), they said, `Uh, oh, we're going to lose another one.' "

"To win last night's game the way we did at the end," said Bielski, "gave us momentum. We were upbeat going into tonight's game. Us jumping out front in the early innings took the pressure off of everyone."

In that first inning, Bielski's two-run triple and a run-scoring double off the wall by Kenny Briggs were the big hits off Gate City starter Takashi Maema, who was tied for fourth in the Pioneer League with 28 strikeouts at midweek and who carried a 3.27 earned-run average into his third start.

"The long ball early will get to most pitchers," noted Belmonte.

Belmonte said the Trappers did about everything right - errorless defense, pitching, hitting. "We kind of put it all together. We needed to have a game where we could break out."

The Traps' six-game win streak is the club's longest since a seven-gamer July 18-24, 1988. They've won 11 of their last 13 games, but this was only the second lopsided win in the bunch. A 19-0 win against Medicine Hat ended the last homestand.

The 16-1 win ends this short homestand. The Trappers move on for a three-game series at Butte starting tonight, then return to face Butte in Derks Tuesday night.

The Trappers remained one game ahead of Butte in the Pioneer South standings, making the next five games pretty important.

"Winning six games in a row is a good way to go in there," said Belmonte.

"It was really important to all the guys that we played well for the home crowd," declared Bielski.

Those earlier games when they lost big leads had played on their minds, said Belmonte. "I know a lot of people in this town let down on us," he said, "but these guys haven't let down. They read all that stuff and heard it on the radio, and it was time to gut it up or cave in to the pressure. They are professionals with pride."

Partly because of the substituting, no one had more than two hits. Brian Kelly, who was on base four straight times Thursday and drove in the winning run when he walked with bases loaded, joined Bielski with a homer and triple and four runs batted in on Friday. John Urcioli, with a double and a single, and four others also had two hits each - Jim Doyle, Tom Duffin, Bargas and Joe Beaulac.

Gate City's five singles went to five different hitters, and the Pioneer run scored on a delayed double steal of home by Tyrone Horne. Twelve of the 16 Trapper runs were earned, including the first seven, despite five Gate City errors.