"What's the right word, deja vu?" asked Buzz manager Phil Roof after his team threw away a seven-run lead Tuesday night, losing to the Memphis Redbirds 9-8 at Franklin Quest Field.
It was a flashback to Sunday when the Buzz blew an 8-0 lead to lose to the Omaha Royals 11-10. It's become a pattern in the last couple of weeks for the Buzz to come out strong and get a couple of early runs, then watch the lead dwindle in the latter innings."Too many big leads we've given away. We're not getting the job done in these types of games," Roof said.
The Buzz opened with a first-inning hitting barrage. Chris Latham led off the inning with a solo home run. Then Esteban Beltre, Corey Koskie and Chad Rupp singled, Beltre scoring. A Brian Buchanan double scored Koskie and Rupp, making the lead 4-0. A single by second baseman Jon Shave drove in Buchanan. With Marc Lewis on via a hard grounder to short, Jeff Horn, who went 3-for-4 on the night, doubled to right-center, scoring Lewis. Then it was Latham's turn again, as he tripled scoring Horn. The Buzz scored seven runs on nine hits, posting a 7-0 lead.
The Redbirds slowly chipped away, scoring two in the second, and then one in the fourth, sixth and seventh. But the real damage came in the ninth, when Memphis' Placido Polanco doubled down the first-base line to lead off the inning. Then Buzz reliever Todd Ritchie walked Pop Warner, and a little blooper into left by Eli Marrero loaded the bases with nobody out. Reed Secrist, a Utah native who played for Viewmont High and Dixie Junior College, had the chance to be the hero for the Redbirds, but he struck out swinging. After walking to the dugout, Secrist suddenly reappeared yelling about a called strike, which promptly got him ejected from the game.
This sent Memphis' manager Gaylen Pitts into a frenzy. After arguing with umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, he was also ejected.
Ritchie hadn't thrown a pitch during the span, and when he finally faced Memphis left fielder Todd Steverson he fed him a floater that Steverson drilled into the left-center gap, scoring Polanco and Warner and cutting the lead to one. Brian Rupp's double scored Marrero and Steverson, giving the Redbirds the lead for good.
Roof was asked whether he thought the break in action had affected Ritchie's rhythm.
"It should have given Todd a breather, but he didn't throw for five minutes," he said. "If that was his (Gaylen Pitts) intention, to go out and stall. It worked."