Five errors can be tough to overcome — unless you also belt four homers.
"Our bats just wouldn't let our gloves beat us tonight," said Salt Lake Stingers manager Dino Ebel.
Battling to hang in the PCL Northern Division race, Salt Lake overcame a couple of Sky Sox leads and their own defensive sloppiness in posting an 11-5 victory Thursday night at Franklin Covey Field.
They did it by pounding out 15 hits, including four long balls, against a pair of Sky Sox pitchers.
Salt Lake's offensive performance got starting pitcher Joe Saunders off the hook—a position he didn't deserve to be in since only two of the five runs scored against him in 5 1/3 innings were earned.
Oddly, once Saunders left the game the Stingers settled down and played well over the final 3 2/3 innings, a stretch during which Salt Lake reliever Scott Dunn (5-7) gave up just one hit and struck out five.
Dunn's performance, said Ebel, "was huge. This guy's got lightning stuff, and tonight he was on fire."
Salt Lake had jumped out to an early lead in the game when—after Chris Prieto and Alberto Callaspo opened the game with singles—Nick Gorneault launched his 24th homer of the season high to left.
Colorado Springs got two of those runs back in the third, however, when Stingers shortstop Zach Sorensen and Saunders made back-to-back throwing errors. That put them on second and third, and they both scored on Tomas De La Rosa's single to center.
An inning later the Sky Sox took their first lead, again aided by an error. Eddy Garabito singled and Ryan Shealy doubled to right-center. Garabito wouldn't have scored except that Salt Lake rightfielder Luke Allen had trouble picking the ball up. Tom Wilson then doubled in Shealy for a 4-3 lead.
Salt Lake retied the game in the bottom of the fourth, on a line-drive homer to left by Ryan Budde.
The Sky Sox moved back in front as the Stingers had a two-error sixth inning. Garabito reached on a single, after which Shealy and Wilson singled to load the bases. Jeff Pickler then hit an easy groundball to first, which Budde fielded cleanly. But his throw to the plate for the force was in the dirt, and Garabito scored to make it 5-4.
The Stingers got a little error help in the bottom of the sixth when Budde reached on a throwing miscue by Sky Sox third baseman De La Rosa. Two outs later, with Budde on third thanks to a sacrifice bunt and groundout, Alberto Callaspo lofted a double over the leftfielder's head to score Budde and tie the game again.
Gorneault and Allen topped the scoring with homers on back-to-back pitches in the eighth.
The Stingers now go to Las Vegas for the final series of the season, starting today at 8 p.m. Ebel said his team is enjoying this pennant race and looking forward to these final four games.
"It will be exciting to get on that flight tomorrow and get to Vegas and keep this thing going," he said.
Kelvim Escobar (0-0, 3.24 ERA) will start today's game for Salt Lake, opposed by Harold Eckert (5-9, 6.18).
NOTES: Outfielder Curtis Pride and pitcher Greg Jones were called up by the Angels after Wednesday's game . . . When Lou Merloni started a game this week, he became the 53rd player to appear for the Stingers this season, tying the mark set last season. . . . Gorneault's homer made him just the eighth player in franchise history to drive in 100 runs in a season. The last player before Gorneault to drive in 100 runs in a season was Robb Quinlan in 2002.