The third time was the charm for the Salt Lake Bees against the Fresno Grizzlies. Having dropped the first two contests of the series at Smith’s Ballpark, the Bees’ offense erupted against Fresno starting pitcher Kent Emmanuel, who was chased early after relinquishing seven runs on 11 hits. Although Fresno rallied to tie the score at seven, Dustin Ackley ensured the crowd of 7,138 left happy, launching a deep home run to right for a dramatic 10-8 walk-off victory.
The bad news for the home team, however, was that the El Paso Chihuahuas defeated the Sacramento River Cats 7-3, clinching the Pacific Southern Division and ending Salt Lake’s playoff aspirations.
Bees MVP • Third baseman Zach Houchins had a pair of timely hits in the seventh and ninth innings. The first was a deep shot to center that bounced off the wall for a stand-up triple. Houchins would later score on a wild pitch to give Salt Lake an 8-7 lead. And in the ninth, Houchins led the inning off with a single, setting the table for Ackley and scoring the winning run.
Hidden hero • In the second with two outs and a runner on third, Bees second baseman David Fletcher surprised the Fresno defense by laying down a perfectly placed squeeze bunt down the third-base line. Grizzlies’ third baseman Colin Walsh didn’t have a play as Sherman Johnson sprinted down the line to score, giving the Bees their first lead of the game.
Flashing Leather • In the second, Fresno second baseman Rico Noel hit a sharp grounder up the middle. However, shortstop Rey Navarro lunged to his left, scooped the ball into his glove, spun around and fired a bullet to first baseman Sherman Johnson for a nifty 6-3 out.
Quoteworthy • “We’ve been playing good baseball the last few weeks but unfortunately El Paso has been dominating,” Ackley said. “It’s tough knowing that we’ve been eliminated but we’re going to enjoy this last game and knowing how well we played this year and carry it with us into the offseason.”
Angel Angle • Pitcher Eduardo Paredes, who spent a great deal of time this season in a Bees uniform, pitched two-thirds of an inning Sunday against the Rangers, yielding one hit but no runs, reducing his ERA to 2.87 with L.A.
What’s next • The season finale: Salt Lake Bees (72-69) RHP Daniel Wright (6-10 6.99) vs. Fresno Grizzlies (76-65) RHP Cy Sneed (1-1, 9.82), Sept 4 th , Smith’s Ballpark, 12:05pm.