Like a couple of prize fighters, the Salt Lake Bees and Las Vegas 51s played punch-counterpunch Monday night at Franklin Covey Field. And when the slugfest ended, Las Vegas earned the 5-4 victory and the Bees had dropped their fifth loss in the last six games.
Salt Lake got on the board first with solo home run by Adam Morrissey in the second. Las Vegas tied it in the third on a double by Sergio Garcia who scored when Wilkin Ruan reached on an infield throwing error.
In Salt Lake's half of the inning, Dee Brown homered to push the lead to 2-1, but Las Vegas countered with two runs in the fourth and a run in the fifth, while Salt Lake could only muster a run in the fourth for the 4-3 deficit. The Las Vegas run in the fifth was unearned as catcher Tim Duff tried to pick off 51s base runner Rene Rivera at third and the ball hit him in the back and rolled into the outfield, allowing Rivera to score easily.
"We're just not winning games," manager Bobby Mitchell said afterward. "We let them get ahead of us and we seemed to be battling back all night."
Las Vegas then brought in reliever Ramon Troncoso, who frustrated the Bees for 3 1/3 innings. Through the sixth, seventh and eighth, Troncoso worked 1-2-3 innings, throwing just 24 pitches (21 strikes) to record nine outs.
Then came the crucial ninth. Bees reliever Kasey Olenberger hit batter John-Ford Griffen, who reached second on a walk to Garcia then scored on a sacrifice to center field by Ruan.
"That run in the ninth was huge," Mitchell said. "It's hard to come back from one run down let alone two."
Salt Lake didn't go quietly. Duff led off with a single, advanced to third on Freddy Sandoval's double and scored on an infield single by Dee Brown.
"We just couldn't get guys around," Mitchell said. "We left too many men on base."
Salt Lake had 12 hits to Las Vegas' seven, but recorded those two costly errors and stranded 10 runners, while Las Vegas left only four.
BEELINES: Attendance Monday was 7,014 ... When Matt Brown reached base in the fifth inning a walk, it marked 25 straight games he has gotten on base ... After a four-game set in Colorado Springs, the Bees return home Sunday to face the Sacramento River Cats.