The Salt Lake Bees did not beat themselves.
On the contrary, Reno earned its 4-3 win over the Bees before an almost sellout Thursday night crowd at Smith’s Ballpark. Unlike earlier in the season, Salt Lake didn’t commit a bunch of errors. It didn’t struggle offensively, or melt down on the mound. There’s a reason the Aces are battling for first in the Pacific Coast League’s northern division.
Aces 4, Bees 3
O Andy Marte gets the game-winning double in the seventh inning to defeat the Bees.
» Salt Lake drops to 44-62 on the season.
» The Bees split their series with the Aces, 2-2.
And they proved it when it counted on Thursday.
"That’s a good team," Bees manager Keith Johnson said. "They were able to make the plays needed to win, and they certainly outplayed us when it counted. So hats off to them for sure."
On a night that ended in fireworks, it looked as if the beginning of the evening would yield to a high scoring affair. But a combined four runs in the first inning settled into a pitching duel on both sides.
In the end, Salt Lake had its chances, taking a 3-2 advantage in the bottom of the fifth inning, scattering eight hits and consistently putting pressure on the Reno pitching staff. But the Aces rallied in the top of the seventh, using a ground rule double by Andy Marte to take a lead for good. Hard-throwing righty Jake Barrett came on in the ninth inning and secured the save for the Aces.
"We built a lead, and we weren’t able to hold it," Johnson said. "The bullpen has been fine for the most part, and I thought it pitched well tonight. But Marte was able to get a hold of one, and he’s one of the best hitters in the league."
The loss puts a damper on a series Salt Lake was poised to win. Instead of taking three of four from Reno, the two teams split. Instead of continuing a trend of winning six of the last 10, the Bees are left searching for answers to familiar questions regarding their bullpen and its effectiveness.
Salt Lake drops to 44-62 on the season, stranding nine runners and striking out seven times in the process.
"There aren’t any moral victories in baseball," Johnson said. "We’ve played well, but we have to play better. But it’s good for some of the guys hoping to get September call-ups to play well."
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