Triple-A baseball is just one step away from the majors, but the Salt Lake Buzz and Albuquerque Dukes played defense like Little Leaguers Friday night at Franklin Quest Field.
In a game when both teams booted the ball like they were playing soccer, it was only fitting that the decisive play had a pair of errors. The Dukes were the benefactors, as they won the battle 7-4.The Buzz, who committed a season-high four errors on the night, fell to 15-13 with the loss, while the Dukes, who had four errors of their own, improved to 13-15.
Salt Lake starter Scott Klingenbeck entered the seventh inning holding on to a 3-2 lead when the wheels came off for the Buzz. Klingenbeck walked the first two batters he faced in the seventh before an Albuquerque ground out moved the base-runners to second and third with one out. Buzz manager Phil Roof then had Klingenbeck intentionally walk Karim Garcia to load the bases and set up a double-play possibility.
Albuquerque's Tom Prince followed with a grounder right at Buzz shortstop Tom Quinlan. Instead of turning a double play, however, the ball took a big hop that went off Quinlan's glove into shallow left field, an error allowing two runs to cross the plate. To make matters worse, Quinlan, after chasing the ball down, made his second error on the same play with a bad throw to third base that allowed another run to score, giving the Dukes a 5-3 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"We just had a bad seventh inning," said Roof. "The ball took a little bit of a bad hop, but (Quinlan) should have made that play. We were looking for a double play and we didn't get it."
Of the seven runs the Dukes plated, only three were earned due to the Buzz fielding problems.
"(The errors) are a concern. Right now we're averaging one a game," said Roof.
While Buzz fielding has been questionable at times this year, the Dukes have been atrocious. In 28 games, the Dukes have made a league-high 46 errors.
It was immediately following one Dukes error that the Buzz tied the game in the fourth. After Buzz catcher Damian Miller reached base on shortstop Eddie Rios' miscue, Kevin Reimer made Albuquerque pay with a two-out, two-run homer for a 2-2 tie.
The Buzz took the lead in the sixth on a run-scoring single by Reimer before the Dukes took control in the seventh.
BUZZ BRIEFS: Salt Lake, the defending PCL Northern Division champs, will face Colorado Springs, the team the Buzz lost to in the last year's PCL championship series, for the first time this season tonight. Lefty Dan Serafini (2-1, 5.46 ERA) will start for the Buzz against RHP Roger Bailey . . . . Sunday's game, originally slated to begin at 2 p.m., has been changed. It will now start at 5 p.m. so that it won't conflict with the Jazz/Blazers playoff game . . . Jazz all-stars Karl Malone and John Stockton would have rather been playing the Blazers Friday night instead of waiting around until Sunday afternoon. But to bide some of their extra time, however, they were both among the crowd of 8,863 at the ballpark Friday. It was the second largest Buzz crowd of the season.
Sunday's Buzz game changed to 5 p.m.
To accommodate those who wish to watch the Utah Jazz-Portland Trail Blazers NBA playoff game Sunday afternoon, Sunday's Salt Lake Buzz-Colorado Springs Sky Sox game at Franklin Quest Field has been changed to 5 p.m.