Two things are becoming abundantly clear about the second half of the PCL season - the Salt Lake Buzz are determined to make a run at a division title, and they're doing it in dramatic fashion.
Friday night, in front of the largest crowd of the season (10,770), it was first baseman Brent Brede's time to be the hero. Brede drilled a two-out grand slam to deep center in the bottom of the 12th inning to give Salt Lake a 7-3 victory over the Calgary Cannons. Both teams had entered the contest with perfect 4-0 records in the second half.And once again, manager Phil Roof was left almost speechless after the latest Buzz drama.
"Brede had a great night, and that was a quality at-bat," he said. Roof was equally pleased with the Buzz pitching effort. Starter Travis Miller threw eight quality innings, and reliever Jose Parra shut down the Cannons going into the 12th. Kevin Legault came on in the final frame to improve his record to 2-3 on the year, while Matt Ryan (1-1), took the loss.
The Cannons drew first blood on "Bat Night" at Franklin Quest when Jermaine Allensworth led off the first with a triple to right center. He scored on a two-out single by Rich Aude. A leadoff triple by Ramon Espinosa in the fifth also resulted in Calgary's second "controversial" run. With one out, Tim Marx flew to Jamie Ogden in right, who then threw a bullet to Mike Durant at the plate. Espinosa appeared to be out, but home plate umpire Ron Barnes waved him safe, raising the ire of the crowd for the first time, but not the last, on the evening.
Salt Lake tied the score with a pair of runs in the sixth. Durant led off with a single, Steve Hazlett drew a walk, and then Mitch Simons successfully sacrificed to move them up. On the play, Simons arrived at first about the same time as the throw, and his collision with first baseman Rich Aude knocked the ball loose. But again, Barnes intervened, saying Simons interfered with the play and ruled him out. Simons eventually got tossed after a very lengthy argument erupted between Barnes, Simons and Roof.
Durant eventually scored when Chris Latham was safe on a fielder's choice, and Walker flew deep to left to score Hazlett.
Salt Lake took a 3-2 lead in the seventh when Brede led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Miller and scored on a single by Durant. But Calgary responded in the eighth when Allensworth doubled with one out, moved to third on a fly to center and then stole home.
The Buzz are now a perfect 6-0 in extra inning games at home, and it marked the sixth time this year Salt Lake has won a game with a home run.
Calgary's Reed Secrist, the Viewmont High graduate who entered the game tied for fourth in the PCL in batting with a .338 average, was 0-5 Friday night.
BUZZ NOTES: Outfielder Matt Lawton was recalled by Minnesota and started for the Twins Friday night . . . Former Buzzman Denny Hocking arrived at the "Q" at 8:20 p.m. after being sent to Salt Lake on a rehabilitation assignment. He literally ran into Simons just after he arrived and Simons had been ejected, so he hurriedly got dressed and went in at shortstop in the seventh . . . Infielder Brian Raabe and righthander Pat Mahomes were also optioned back to the Buzz.