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Minor league baseball: Salt Lake beats Las Vegas on walk-off sacrifice fly to take 2-0 lead in playoffs series

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Andy Marte dives into home for the winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning in playoff action Salt Lake Bees vs. The Las Vegas 51's at the Springmobile Ball Park, Wednesday, September 4, 2013. Marte scored from 3rd, on a fly out to centerfield.

By Steve Luhm

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Sep 05 2013 11:00PM
Updated Feb 14, 2014 11:33PM

Scott Cousins delivered again Thursday night.

Cousins’ sacrifice fly scored Andy Marte from third base in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the Salt Lake Bees a 5-4 win over Las Vegas in Game 2 of their Pacific Coast League playoff series at Spring Mobile Ball-Park.

With a 2-0 lead, Salt Lake can clinch the best-of-five series Friday night in Las Vegas.

Cousins’ eighth-inning single tied Game 1 on Wednesday night and, in the second game of what has been a spectacularly competitive series, he again got the best of 51s’ relief pitch Rob Carson.

With the bases loaded, Cousins worked the count to 3-2 by not biting on a couple of breaking balls by Carson that just missed the outside corner.

On a 3-2 pitch, Cousins lofted a high fly to short center field. With Marte tagging at third, Las Vegas’ Brian Bixler made the catch. His throw to the place was a fraction of a second late and Marte was called safe by plate umpire Scott Mahoney.

"I can’t remember how many pitches it was," Cousins said. "I just know the dude throws hard. ... I was just trying to put the bat on the ball against that guy. He’s got a good off-speed pitch and I was able to lay off and got a fastball up in the zone that I needed to hit the fly ball."

Cousins wasn’t surprised manager Keith Johnson, who was coaching at third, sent Marte on the short fly ball.

"Not at all," he said. "There’s one out in the bottom of the ninth. I don’t care who you are. You’ve got to try and win the game."

The victory means Salt Lake needs only one more win to advance to the PCL championship series against Oklahoma City or Omaha.

"That’s huge," Cousins said. "That gives us a little cushion. We have to go down there and win one out of three instead of two out of three or three out of three. That’s a huge difference, to win these two games at home."

Salt Lake took a 4-3 lead into the top of the ninth inning but, with two out, pinch-hitter Francisco Pena doubled in Jamie Hoffman with the tying run. Hoffman had singled off Bees’ reliever Daniel Stange to keep the 51s alive.

In the end, however, Pena’s clutch double to left center field simply set the stage for Salt Lake.

Marte opened the bottom of the ninth with a single.

He went to second on a passed ball by Pena. After Efren Navarro was walked intentionally, Drew Heid bunted to runners to second and third.

The 51s also intentionally walked Roberto Lopez to load the bases, sending Cousins to the plate for what would be his game-winning sacrifce fly.

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