At 7:01 Monday evening, under sunny skies and with the mercury at 93 degrees, the Salt Lake Buzz and Vancouver Canadians began the first game of their important four-game series at Franklin Quest Field.
After several lightning shows, a few thundershowers, 43 hits, 23 runs, 13 pitchers, 16 innings and more than five-and-a-half hours, the Buzz had themselves a 12-11 victory."You certainly don't want to lose these kind of games," said Buzz manager Phil Roof after the longest contest in franchise history ended at 12:32 a.m. this morning. "We didn't give up, but they didn't give up either. We had chances to win it and they had chances to win it, but we ended up being the lucky ones."
A crowd of 12,544 showed up for the game - nearly 1,000 more than attended the parent Minnesota Twins' game in Minneapolis Monday. Amazingly, a couple thousand fans were still around to see Riccardo Ingram's one-out, bases-loaded single to left that scored Denny Hocking and ended the contest in the bottom of the 16th.
"It's much better to come out on the winning end of that type of game. We'll refresh a little quicker than the team that lost," said Ingram, who finished the night 4-for-8 with a walk in nine trips to the plate. "When you play a game this long you get tired more mentally than physically. Everybody is just up there at the plate swinging away trying to hit the ball out of the park to end the madness."
The win, the third in a row for the Buzz, keeps them in first place in the PCL Northern Division second half standings with a 24-21 record. Edmonton is one-half game back (23-21), while Vancouver, the first-half champions, fell to 20-21.Bill Wissler, the sixth Buzz pitcher used, hurled the final two innings to earn the victory, while David Holdridge, Vancouver's seventh pitcher on the night, suffered the loss.
The Buzz started quickly, with a grand slam homer by designated hitter Van Snider in the first inning - the first grand slam of the season for Salt Lake. The Canadians responded and actually took the lead in the second, scoring five runs on seven hits off Buzz starter Greg Hansell.
The Buzz scored three runs in the fourth and three more in the seventh - two on a double by Hocking - and took a 10-8 lead into the eighth inning. Vancouver knotted the game, however, in the eighth on a bases loaded throwing error by Buzz catcher Mike Durant that allowed two runs to score.
Vancouver catcher Todd Greene hit his third solo homer of the game - and ninth in 20 games with the Canadians - to give his team an 11-10 lead in the top of the 12th. The Buzz prolonged the game, however, when Scott Pose scored the tying run on pinch hitter Patrick Lennon's ground out.
The Buzz and the Canadians will play the second game of the four-game series tonight when LHP Rich Robertson (2-0, 3.60 ERA) pitches against RHP Pete Janicki (0-2, 9.60 ERA). Roof said, with his pitching staff depleted due to the length of Monday's game, the Buzz need seven innings pitched out of Robertson tonight.
BUZZ BRIEFS: Salt Lake first baseman Steve Dunn strained a ligament in his right hand during Sunday's game and is expected to be out for 10 to 14 days . . . Veteran major league second baseman Jose Lind, who was with the Kansas City Royals earlier this season, started the game for Vancouver. He was yanked in the fourth inning, however, after being called up by the parent California Angels . . . Salt Lake has been on fire recently on the offensive side of the ball, but pitching has been a problem. In 13 of the last 16 games, the Buzz have scored six or more runs, but they are just 9-7 during the stretch . . . The Buzz are now 5-4 in extra inning games this year, while the Canadians fell to 10-5 . . . Monday's 5:31 game time was more than one hour longer than any other contest in Buzz history. The previous longest game for Salt Lake was earlier this year when the Buzz and Phoenix Firebirds played for 4:27 in an 11-8 Buzz loss in 13 innings. The previous record for most inning in a Buzz game was 14 . . . A grand total of 27 players were left on base Monday. The Buzz stranded 15, while Vancouver left 12 - including three at third base in the final three innings.