Perhaps the Salt Lake Buzz should move all their games to the Great White North, eh.
Saturday's 9-8 Buzz victory over the Calgary Cannons set a franchise-record with six consecutive victories - and they've all been in Canada. Salt Lake won three straight games in Edmonton, took then took the three hour bus ride south to Calgary where they have won the first three of the four-game set.Saturday's game, however, took some late-game defensive heroics for the Buzz to hang on. Despite leading 9-4 entering the bottom half of the ninth, five singles off Salt Lake reliever Kevin Campbell cut the lead to 9-7 with just one out and runners at the corners. The next batter, Quinn Mack, hit a double to center, easily scoring Andy Sheets from third. A.C. Manahan attempted to score the tying run from first but was thrown out at the plate for the second out. The next Cannon grounded out sharply to shortstop Denny Hocking and the nearly four-hour game was over.
The ninth inning was the type of collapse that give managers gray hair. Fortunately for Buzz skipper Scott Ullger, he didn't have to watch it. He was long gone after being thrown out in the third inning by first-base umpire John Lipsey for arguing a call.
Salt Lake is now 33-30 and 1 1/2 games behind league-leading Vancouver with nine games remaining in the first half. The Canadians' game against Colorado Springs was conveniently rained out the night Vancouver's hockey team played in game six of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Buzz stars Bernardo Brito, Tim McIntosh and Steve Dunn have swung the big bats for Salt Lake during the winning streak, but that trio was relatively silent Saturday. Instead it was J.T. Bruett, who hadn't even played in the previous three games, who hurt the Cannons most. Bruett hit three doubles and drove in four runs on the night.
Calgary got on board first with a two-out, two-run double by Dale Sveum off Buzz starter Shawn Bryant.
Salt Lake responded in the second with an RBI single by Denny Hocking and a two-run double down the first-base line from Bruett. The Buzz led the rest of the way, scoring two runs in the fourth, three in the seventh and one in the eighth.
Brito entered the game with a 13-game hitting streak, a 10-game RBI streak and an eight-game multiple hit streak, but went 0-for-6 Saturday to end them all.
After the shaky first innning, Bryant settled down and pitched well enough to earn the victory and improve to 4-3 on the season. He gave up five hits, five walks and three runs in 5-and-a-third innings to improve to 4-3 on the year. Bill Wissler came on in relief in the sixth. Wissler got a huge out when he struck out Marc Newfield with two outs and the bases loaded in a 5-3 game. Wissler gave up one run in 2-and-two-thirds innings before giving way to Campbell.
The Buzz will have the chance to sweep a four-game series for the first time ever today when they meet the Cannons in a 1:35 p.m. contest. RHP Mike Trombley (1-2, 4.50 ERA) is scheduled to start against Calgary's RHP Jim Converse.