The Salt Lake Bees beat the Fresno Grizzlies 9-7 on Monday night thanks to one of the strangest plays that the 8,070 fans at Spring Mobile Ballpark have probably ever seen.
Salt Lake left fielder Chris Nelson was 2 for 3 with a home run, two RBIs, two runs and a walk, but it was his controversial single and ensuing madness in the seventh inning that ended up bringing home the tying and winning runs.
Trailing 7-6 with two outs in the seventh inning, the Bees had Matt Long on second base and Efren Navarro on first base. Nelson hit a soft grounder to Sacramento first basemen Todd Linden, who fielded the ball and tossed to pitcher Dan Runzler covering first base. But Runzler missed the bag with his foot and Nelson was called safe.
Long moved to third and Navarro to second on the play, but when Runzler went behind first base to argue the umpire's call, both runners sneaked home to score because the pitcher had never asked for time out.
"I saw everything, I was just trying to play it cool like I didn't know what was going on," Nelson said. "I was at first base kind of pointing [to Navarro] to keep going, because [Runzler] was just so into the umpire. It was just a crazy play."
The play drew the ire of Sacramento manager Bob Mariano, who came out to argue the call. He and Runzler were both eventually ejected.
Chad Cordero (2-2) earned the win for Salt Lake (57-46) while Runzler (3-5) took the loss for Sacramento (47-56).
It was a back and forth game the entire way, with Salt Lake jumping out to 1-0 and 2-1 leads early. The Grizzlies took a 5-2 lead in the fourth inning, but a big fifth inning, including Nelson's two-run homer, gave the Bees the 6-5 lead. Sacramento scored two in the top of the seventh to take a 7-6 lead before the craziness in the bottom of the inning that led to the eventual 9-7 win.
Bees' starter Eric Cendejas made his first professional start, giving up just two hits and a run in three innings. He has been in the Angels organization for three and a half years but had been used exclusively as a reliever until Monday night.