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TRAPPERS TOP BRAVES, 11-1, TO KEEP LEAD

From now on, unless Butte gets hot in a hurry, it's a watching, waiting game for Salt Lake and Idaho Falls. "We'll have to try and win every game we walk on the field to play," says Trapper Manager Nick Belmonte, "because it's out of our hands what happens to them (Braves). It's going to be scoreboard-watching."

With almost a month to go in a 2 1/2-month season, the two Southern Division contenders don't meet again. "It's going to be very strange," Belmonte says.In their final head-to-head encounter of 1991 Wednesday night in Derks Field, the 29-15 Trappers pulled a game ahead of the Falls with an 11-1 win, pitcher Dave Marcon holding the Pioneer League's best-hitting team to five hits in his seven innings and getting hitless relief he didn't necessarily need from John Gilligan and new man Greg Knowles.

"They're getting ready to cut down to a four-man rotation," said Marcon about coming out with an eight-run lead, no earned runs and no walks to his name. "They don't want to hurt us. They're thinking of my future." He'd thrown about 100 pitches.

"We're trying to keep our guys sharp," said Belmonte, whose pitching staff, like Idaho Falls', doesn't have a complete game yet, mostly by design.

Two of the Braves' hits were in the infield, and one was a blooper six inches out of right fielder Benny Castillo's reach. The lone run came in the sixth after a walk to Tom Coates when Castillo misplayed a single by Dominic Therrien and both moved up a base. Coates scored on a groundout.

Marcon (3.83 ERA) has thrown 221/3 consecutive innings without an earned run. In his last 33 1/3 innings, he's given up just three earned runs.

"His last five starts have been carbon copies," Belmonte said. "He's pretty much been our stopper the last two or three weeks."

Marcon's rhythm improved with work, and that's the only change in his game.

Marcon said IF's Tony Graffagnino (.378) annoyed him into throwing hard Wednesday. "He kept stepping out of the box, and I threw him my hardest pitches. It made me mad," Marcon said. He was told some pitches clocked 89 mph on the gun. "That's phenomenal for me," said Marcon, usually around 84-85.The Traps had just seven hits, but Rick Hirtensteiner and David Rolls each had two-out RBI triples and Rolls added a leg double that became a run. Nine walks, seven IF errors and two hit batsmen helped the Trapper cause.

Belmonte was adamant that errors didn't give Salt Lake the game. "I know they made errors, but I also know we got timely hits, and they made a lot of errors late," he said. Four of the last five Trapper runs were unearned.

The first run, in the first, came on a hit batsman and three walks. Hirtensteiner drove in the second with his fourth-inning triple that became an inside-the-park-homer kind of play when the throw to third eluded Therrien for the first of his three errors.

The ball dribbled only a few feet away from Therrien, but Hirtensteiner picked himself up from his slide and dashed home for a 3-0 lead.

A four-run fifth followed, Todd Edwards' two-out single driving in two, and Brian Biggers kicking in another with his single. Todd Stefan scored when Ron York missed Biggers' bouncer.

The Traps continue the homestand Thursday, Friday and Saturday against Butte. By Saturday, they expect to have drawn the one-millionth fan in their six-plus season history.