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BREWERS NIP TRAPPERS IN THE 9TH

Helena center fielder LaRue Baber had been one of Trapper reliever John Gilligan's three straight ninth-inning strikeout victims in Saturday night's Salt Lake victory at Derks Field.

Sunday afternoon, with his family in to watch from Sacramento, it was Baber's turn to damage Gilligan and the Traps.Baber's ninth-inning, two-strike, ground-rule double as Gilligan entered the game with one out in the ninth was just enough for the Brewers to beat the Trappers, scoring Mike Lawn from second for a 3-2 win.

It was 22-12 Salt Lake's fourth home loss against 13 wins.

"He got the better of it today," said Trapper Manager Nick Belmonte of Baber, who also doubled harmlessly in the seventh.

Gilligan got a fly out and strikeout to end the threat, and the Trappers had the potential tying run at second base with the potential winning run on first in the ninth but couldn't come through.

Helena reliever Rusty Rugg delivered the first two outs of the inning, then Brewer Manager Harry Dunlop went to his stopper, Tom Hickox. Sidearm righty Hickox intentionally walked left-handed pinch hitter Todd Edwards, going against percentages and putting the possible winning run on base. Dunlop wanted to get to right-handed pinch hitter Keith Rader, who popped out the second to end the game.

"He's our Gilligan," Dunlop said of his use of Hickox when Rugg had done a fine job for 3 2/3 innings, giving up just one hit.

That was the only hit of the final four innings for the Traps, who, after getting 13 hits Saturday, managed just seven Sunday. Included were Rick Hirtensteiner's leadoff triple in the first - he scored on a groundout - and Benny Castillo's double in the fifth.

"Their pitching did a good job," said Belmonte. "We had some mild threats, but he (Rugg) was getting our big hitters out."

The loss squandered a nice defensive effort for Salt Lake, particularly by right fielder Castillo, who made two impressive running catches in the center-right gap in the second and third, saving a run with the first. Castillo also gunned down Helena's Joe Gmitter trying to go home on an attempted sacrifice fly for a 9-2 double play, and that snuffed two runs because Helena didn't try to run on Castillo in the ninth.

"Their right fielder made some outstanding plays," said Dunlop, who noted his own right fielder, Lawn, also made a 9-2 double play in the third.

Trapper catcher David Rolls singled in the fourth and scored Salt Lake's second run on a wild pitch and catcher's throwing error to third. But Rolls left the game the next inning after Lawn's bunt single had turned into the tying run. On a pitchout to DH Dave Prekszas, the ball came too close to the plate as Rolls caught it, and Prekszas swung to protect the runner, hitting Rolls in the throwing hand. He was taken for X-rays that showed only a dislocation of the right ring finger; the Traps had initially worried about tendon damage and weeks of recovery.

"That would have been devastating, a big loss," Belmonte said. Rolls hits .317 and has 26 RBI in 104 at-bats. Rolls, however, should be able to play again tonight or Tuesday.