SALT LAKE CITY — It started with a bald eagle and ended with a beautiful bang.
In between, the Salt Lake Bees easily defeated Fresno, 9-1, on an action-packed night at Spring Mobile Ballpark Saturday evening.
The game was preceded by a first pitch thrown by Sgt. Evan Stratton, a bald eagle on field during the national anthem, and a flock of white doves flying overhead; it was followed by a sky full of fireworks for the crowd of 13,435; and it was played in conjunction with a show by the Dueling Pianos from The Tavernacle and a preliminary hot dog-eating contest in preparation for competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi’s visit June 21.
In addition to all the sideshows, happenings on the field were pretty eventful as well. Scoring started early when shortstop Andrew Romine reached base with a single to right field and then third baseman Luis Jimenez drove him home with a triple to deep center field.
Luke Carlin added to the party with a grand slam — his second home run of the season — in the third inning, driving home Efren Navarro, Matt Long and Tommy Field and pushing the lead to 6-1.
“I was just looking for a good pitch to hit. It really doesn’t get any more complicated than that,” Carlin said of his approach in the box. “He (Fresno starter Fabio Castillo) left one up, so I was able to get the barrel to it.”
The catcher was glad to see the ball clear the fence after facing a similar setup earlier in the game but coming up short.
“I came up two innings before that and hit a ball well, and got out,” he said of his grounder to first baseman Johnny Monell. “I had a little more determination (the third) inning and I just knew he wasn’t going to get me out.”
Romine added a two-RBI single in the sixth, scoring Carlin and Roberto Lopez before going home on a Navarro single to left field to post the 9-1 score.
“It was good to put together a complete game,” Bees manager Keith Johnson said. “We pitched the ball very well, played some solid defense, nearly turned a triple. Our guys came out and swung the bats well.”
Although the Bees missed completing a triple play, the defense did record three separate double plays to halt any building momentum in the Fresno lineup. Bees starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker also squelched the Grizzlies’ efforts in the box, striking out six and allowing just one run — a Roger Kieschnick homer in the second frame — in eight strong innings.
“(Shoemaker) went through a little stretch of bad luck early where he had some good outings and we didn’t give him any run support, then a little bout of giving up some runs,” Johnson said of the pitcher, who improved to 5-8. ”Now we’re putting it together where when he gets on the mound we’re scoring him some runs and he puts the other team away.”
Romine finished 2 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored; Navarro finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs and one run; Carlin finished 1 for 3 with four RBIs and two runs; and the Bees improved to 31-32 overall and 2-1 against the Grizzlies.
Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. EMAIL: email@example.com