The Salt Lake Trappers wrapped up their Pioneer League season Saturday night in impressive style. The sellout crowd of 11,846 brought the season attendance total to 217,253 - a professional baseball short-season record by nearly 17,000 fans. They erased Idaho Falls 7-3 at Derks Field. And they put a wrap on things with a fireworks show to highlight "Fan Appreciation Night"
Not a bad sendoff as they head toward the Pioneer League playoffs.The Trappers will spend Sunday traveling to Billings for the opening game, scheduled for Monday night at 7 p.m.
As for the expected playoff nerves, Trappers' manager Nick Belmonte says this team isn't one to worry excessively. "I assume we should all be a little nervous going in," said Belmonte. "But I don't expect us to be too nervous. I expect us to go out and play."
On the regular season's final day, the Trappers wasted no time in establishing which team would still be playing on Monday. Salt Lake jumped on Idaho Falls starter Chris Brock for three first-inning runs. Tim Clark - whose two-for-three night earned him the league batting title (.358) - singled in the first run and Fred Samson singled in two more.
By the start of the second inning, Brock was gone and the teams settled in to finish out it up. Each team threw six pitchers, the Gems presumably to give everyone on the team a chance to play on the last day, the Trappers to keep their pitchers fresh for the playoffs.
The lead ballooned to 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth. Tim Merrick came across the plate with the help of an Idaho Falls balk and another run scored on a throwing error.
Doug Wollenburg homered with a man on in the Idaho Falls sixth, closing the Trappers lead to 5-2, but Merrick homered in the sixth and Bill Fosic's fielder's choice grounder brought the lead to 7-2.
The Gems tallied again in the ninth to finish the scoring.
Salt Lake goes into the playoffs having won nine of the final 10 games of the regular season. "When we had 10 games left, we knew we had to get hot," said Belmonte. "We were one game out of first place. We came back, as we've done all year."