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TRAPPERS CAN’T HOLD A LEAD, LOSE 3RD STRAIGHT TO DODGERS

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With a roster that averages 20.1 years of age and 11 players who are 20 and under, Great Falls Manager Joe Vavra is pretty sure the bumps are going to come to his team that is 13-2 and has won three straight in Salt Lake against the Trappers.

The latest was 8-4 Thursday night, and the last Derks Field meeting of the season for the Dodgers and Trappers will be tonight at 7."If you get defeated a few times in a row, then the immaturity comes out. It's bound to happen," Vavra says, looking down the road a piece.

So, he says, "You've got to ride that roller-coaster as long as you can."

The Dodgers' ticket was still good Thursday. They put together five runs in the fourth and fifth innings and escaped the two-run Salt Lake sixth with a 5-4 lead and the bases loaded with Trappers.

In the seventh, the Trappers again threatened with men on first and second, but Dodger pitcher John DeJarld and shortstop Ron Maurer worked a pickoff of Trapper Jim Doyle at second base for the third out.

"That situation is a manager's nightmare," said Vavra, feeling for Trapper boss Nick Belmonte.

"Then we go out and get three runs right away (in the eighth) and silence everything," Vavra said.

"It was a good play on their part," said Belmonte of the pickoff, which came after Doyle had attempted to steal third. "They were aware. The throw had to be perfect, and it was. It happened at a bad time for us."

Belmonte figured that events earlier in the game were the bigger problem.

Salt Lake led 1-0 in the first and went up 2-0 in the second on Butch Harris' triple and a sacrifice fly. Great Falls tied it 2-2 in the fourth on Mike Busch's solo home run over the center-field wall and on singles by Don Meyers and Ed Lund.

"Frustration is a good word," said Belmonte. "We jump to a lead and can't hold it; we jump to a lead and don't score for three innings.

"We've got to have the killer instinct," Belmonte said.

And a cure for the common hit.

Great Falls had 13 hits Thursday - including five doubles, a triple and a home run - and has outhit Salt Lake 43-22 in the three games so far. The Dodgers have had 14 doubles, three triples and a homer. The Trappers have three doubles, a triple and a homer.

"That's unacceptable," Belmonte said. "Granted, not all (the hits) were solid, but there were plenty that have been."

Belmonte said he left reliever Randy White in longer than he wanted. White gave up a double and triple in the three-run Dodger eighth. White had halted the Dodgers in the three-run fifth with a strikeout and fly out and kept them from advancing past second in the sixth and seventh. He was pitching so well Belmonte stuck with him. "White went as far as he could," Belmonte said.

Tonight it's up to veteran Mike Steinkamp to try and derail the Dodger fun train that was to make a sightseeing tour of Little Cottonwood Canyon today.

Thursday, five Dodgers had two hits each, inlcuding the first four men in the batting order, and Busch and Eric Blackwell had two runs batted in each. Busch's line-drive homer for the Dodgers' first run and Blackwell's two-run triple in the game-breaking eighth were the fuel for Great Falls' fire on a night when "we didn't execute as well," said Vavra.

He can't explain it. "If somebody had told me we'd be 13-2, I'd have said they were crazy," Vavra says. "But they're making a believer out of me. The chemistry is there, and they just don't let themselves get down. They make mistakes and don't let it bother them."

TRAPPER NOTES - Outfielder Brian Kelly out of Oklahoma State is to join the team today.