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Royals’ heavy hitting ends Buzz hopes early

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If fans were five minutes late to Friday night's contest at Franklin Quest Field, they missed the game. There were still some guys batting and running, but it seemed mostly academic.

The Omaha Royals jumped on new Buzz starter Doug Linton in the top of the first inning and scored five runs in a matter of minutes, jump-starting a 15-2 victory over Salt Lake.The Buzz didn't make it much of a scrap later either, scoring a single run in the second inning and another in the sixth but still trailed 15-2 by the seventh-inning stretch.

Linton started the season with the Yankees organization but was released following spring training after sitting out the '97 season after an elbow surgery. He previously was used as a relief pitcher.

But Linton lasted only a third of an inning, before giving way to a parade of Salt Lake pitchers, all of them ineffective.

"We got so far behind that we lost what little momentum we had," Buzz manager Phil Roof said. "We are in a funk right now. We are not this bad of a ball club."

Linton has not pitched competitively for about six weeks and Roof anticipates using him again as a starter in the future. He had struggled in the first innings of his three relief appearances and then settled down, but Friday he never made it that far.

"It was probably unfair to Doug," Roof said. "We wanted to get him in and see if he can help us in the future."

Omaha did offer some entertainment for the fans with a barrage of powerful home runs.

Joe Vitiello hit a liner over the deep left-field wall in the first while Steve Sisco went significantly over right field in the fourth.

For variety, Sisco hammered a blast over the 420-foot wall in center field that carried well up the black retaining wall.

What little hope remained after the early stages of the game dissipated in the Royals' six-run fourth, which included a Brian Buchanan error.

"We are not making breaks for ourselves," Roof said. "When you play up and play hard you make breaks. I am not going to say we are snake-bit. We need to come through."

The Buzz fell to .500 (32-32) on the season.