SALT LAKE CITY — The Bees' offense fell flat Wednesday night, a victim of strong pitching by the Aces. Reno starting pitcher Eric Jokisch was excellent, pitching six innings of one-run ball while striking out six Bees. Jake Barrett, Rubby De La Rosa and Jimmie Sherfy combined to pitch two and two-thirds scoreless innings and the Aces defeated the Bees 5-3.
Salt Lake, after suffering through a miserable performance at the plate for much of the game, had a chance to steal the win with a ninth-inning rally. The surge plated two runs for the Bees thanks to Nolan Fontana's RBI single and Cesar Puello's sacrifice fly. The rally attempt fell short, however, when Dustin Ackley grounded out to end the game.
EMERGENCY CREW: Brooks Pounders was the surprise starter Wednesday night, in what turned out to be a ‘Bullpen Day’ for the Bees. Parker Bridwell, who is 2-3 with a 4.28 in five starts with Salt Lake, was the expected starter, that is until he was recalled to Los Angeles by the Angels.
To make room for Bridwell, Los Angeles resorted to sending down relief pitcher Mike Morin, a day after he was called up to the major league side.
Pounders was one of five pitchers to toe the rubber in the Bees loss, a group that included Manny Banuelos, Jason Gurka, Damien Magnifico and Justin Miller. Unfortunately for Salt Lake, Pounders had one of the worst outings of his season.
Through just two innings of work, the Californian gave up four runs on six hits. In contrast, Banuelos followed with three scoreless innings, highlighted by seven strikeouts.
"It was kind of tough finding out it was a bullpen day. I hadn't pitched the last two nights though, so I was ready," said Banuelos. "I felt good today. I was ready to go. All my stuff was there."
Gurka and Magnifico each took a cue from Banuelos, combining to pitch three shutout innings. Miller, the Bees most prolific closer this season with nine saves, took his cue from Pounders, gifting the Aces one final run.
GET YOUR BEES APPAREL: MiLB released its most recent numbers for merchandise sales, and for the 11th straight year Salt Lake finds itself squarely in the top 25. Since the Salt Lake club changed monikers, from Stingers to Bees, it has consistently been one of the highest sellers of apparel in Minor League Baseball. The 160 MiLB teams combined to bring in $68.3 million in retail sales, a new record. The previous high watermark for the minors was $65.1 million, set in 1992.
NOT TODAY: Coming into Wednesday's game, Bees catcher Tony Sanchez had been on a tear. In his previous two outings, the Miami native had registered back-to-back three-hit performances. Sanchez had also hit safely in six of his previous seven games.
The three-hit explosions were the first for the former Pittsburgh Pirate since April 23, 2016, when he was with the Buffalo Bisons.
Unfortunately for Sanchez, Wednesday brought an end to all the fun. The catcher, batting ninth in the order, finished 0-for-3 on the night, all the while stranding a runner on base.