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Rainiers pound Bees 12-7, tie series at 2 games apiece

SALT LAKE CITY — Rainiers infielder Mike Baxter went 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs, former Bee Daniel Robertson went 2 for 5 with a home run and 2 RBIs, and the Rainiers defeated the Bees 12-7.

Tacoma’s offense got started early and continued often Thursday afternoon. Boog Powell scored the first run of the game in the first inning on a ground-out hit by Efren Navarro. He reached base on a single and advanced to third courtesy of a Bees error.

The Rainiers added another run in the second, this one on a solo shot by Robertson. It was the third home run of the season for Robertson, who hit one homer in 60 games with Salt Lake last season.

Baxter got involved in the fifth inning. With two men on base, due to a walk and a single, Baxter drilled a ball deep to center for a bases-clearing double to give Tacoma a 7-2 lead.

The Bees made repeated attempts to get back in the game, scoring two runs in the fourth inning on a Ryan Jackson single as well as three more in the seventh on singles by Jackson, Juan Graterol and Rafael Ortega, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the offensive explosion by Tacoma.

“I’ve managed for 12 years, this is my fifth year roving, and this is one of the best groups I’ve been around in a long time,” substitute Bees manager Ty Boykin said about the Bees and their fight. Boykin joined the team Thursday as Keith Johnson left for his summer vacation.

VETERAN GUIDANCE: The Bees have one of the more experienced rosters in the PCL with seven players 30 or older on the roster, and 14 players between the ages of 25 and 30. The average age of the team is 28 years old.

“We talk about that all the time,” 25-year-old infielder Sherman Johnson said. “There are a lot of older guys here that have been there (the majors). I have been able to pick their brains and they have pulled me along like a little brother.” The guidance of older players has helped Johnson find his footing with the Bees. After some initial struggles, Johnson is now the team leader in home runs with four and is third in steals with seven.

ALL-STAR VOTING: Voting for the PCL All-Star Game is ongoing and lasts until June 24. The fan vote accounts for one-third of a player’s total votes and will be added to the votes made by the media and those of the Triple-A field and general managers. Angels catcher Jett Bandy was the lone All-Star for the Bees in 2015. Salt Lake currently sports two players on its roster who have been voted onto lower-division All-Star teams this season, outfielder Cal Towey (representing the Arkansas Travelers in the Texas League All-Star game) and infielder Tim Arakawa (representing Inland Empire in the California League All-Star game).

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BEELINES

Rainiers — 12

Bees — 7

In short: Tacoma scored 12 runs on 16 hits and defeated the Bees for the ninth time this season.

Record: 32-33

Up next: Las Vegas LHP Duane Below (4-4, 3.51) at Salt Lake RHP Kyle Kendrick (4-2, 4.74), Friday, 7:05 p.m.

Email: twood@bonneville.com