by Tai Justice
This game followed a successful road trip where the Salt Lake Bees went 7-3, including winning four in a row, improving their record to 9-9 on the young season. The Bees were back in the comforts of their own home last Thursday night to take on the Round Rock Express in the first game of a six-game set.
The visitors came into Smith’s Ballpark with a 10-8 record. It was very similar to the 9-9 record for the Bees. It seemed like there was going to be an evenly matched series. Round Rock took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning off an RBI single from Charles Leblanc. Leblanc had a big night at the plate, adding another RBI in the top of the fourth. He smoked a double off the right field wall. Following a bomb to left center field from Yohel Pozo, it was 3-0 Round Rock after 4.
Luis Rengifo got it going for the Bees offense in the bottom of the sixth. He hit an RBI double. Matt Thaiss added an RBI single to cut the lead to one until Leblanc added to his big night, hitting another RBI single in the top of the eighth to make it 4-2 Round Rock. That would be the final score.
Dillon Peters pitched well, despite eventually taking the loss. He recorded his best outing with a strong six innings of throwing. He struck out six in the process and helped the Salt Lake bullpen go three innings pitched with only one earned run. The Bees offense finished 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Former Riverton High School and Salt Lake Community College pitcher Joe Barlow picked up his fourth save of the season for the Express as they improved to 11-8 on the season. The Bees fell to 9-10 following this loss.
The second of the six game series between the Round Rock Express and the Salt Lake Bees began Friday night with Chris Rodriguez on the mound for the Bees. Rodriguez, who is on injury rehab from the Los Angeles Angels, made his Bees debut with a scoreless first inning of work. Thomas Pannone, who ended up taking the loss allowing seven earned runs, pitched most of the game relieving Rodriguez in the top of the second.
Charles Leblanc picked up right where he left off from the night before, launching a home run to deep right center field. This gave Round Rock an early 3-0 lead in the second. Leody Taveras blasted a solo bomb to left center. The Bees found themselves in a big hole as they were down 4-0 after the top of the third.
The teams traded runs in the fourth to make it a 5-1 ballgame. Max Stassi, who was playing in his second game of his MLB rehab assignment, doubled to deep center field for the Bees second run of the night. For the second consecutive night, the Round Rock Express held the Bees to just two runs. Round Rock poured on three more runs, with Leblanc continuing his big series. He hit another RBI double in the top of the eighth. The scoring ended there and the final score was Round Rock 8 Salt Lake 2.
The Bees offense totaled up eight hits, but were only able to score two runs as they continued to struggle hitting with runners in scoring positions. They went 0-5 and left seven men on base. The Bees fell to 9-11 on the season, with the Express improving to 12-8.
Game 3 of the 6 game set saw the Bees take an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first behind an RBI single from Luis Rengifo. The lead for the Bees wouldn’t last for long as red-hot Leblanc continued his hot streak almost immediately into the game Saturday night. He lined an RBI single to give Round Rock a 2-1 lead in the top of second. Anderson Tejada added another run in the second. After quickly jumping out to a 1-0 lead, the Bees trailed 3-1 heading into the bottom of the second
Max Stassi, who was playing in his third MLB rehab assignment game, would tie the game at three all. The scoring came early and often on Saturday night as the ball was flying all over the park. Yohel Pozo almost immediately broke the tie with a homer to left field. Tejeda continued his big day with a homer to right in the fourth. The Bees once again found themselves trailing, this time by three runs. Although, both teams were far from done scoring.
Smith’s Ballpark erupted for arguably the loudest moment of the season so far as Jake Gatewood tripled to deep right field. He scored two runs and cut into the lead of the Express. Unfortunately for the Bees, Gatewood would be stranded at third in the fifth. Matt Thaiss launched his third homer of the season to tie the game in the sixth. However, the Salt Lake bullpen couldn’t hold down the Express’ offense and poor defense didn’t help the cause either. An error by Preston Palmerio allowed Express to regain the lead. Carl Chester would make the Bees pay even more for giving away outs. He rocketed a double down the left field line. This resulted in two runs and a 9-6 Express lead.
That would end up being the final score as the six runs wouldn’t be enough for the Bees. Jose Quiada would be handed the loss for the Bees, but the multiple errors didn’t help his case. The Bees fell to 9-12 on the season, losing their third game of the series and fourth in a row. Round Rock improved to 13-8 on the year.
The fourth game of this series started off just the way the Bees hoped for. Their pitching threw three scoreless innings to start the game and Preston Palmerio touched them all with a two-run bomb to right field in the bottom of the third. Three batters later, Adell joined in on the home run fun. He blasted one out to left field to make it 4-0 Bees. The home run was Adell’s eleventh of the year, putting back into the Minor League lead for home runs this season.
The ball continued to fly out of the ballpark on this warm summer afternoon in Salt Lake City as Curtis Terry hit an absolute bomb to left field to put Round Rock on the board. This was arguably the farthest home run hit at Smith’s ballpark this year so far. Delino DeShields and Eli White would push two more runs across for Round Rock and suddenly what was once a 4-0 Bees lead was 4-3.
The Bees lost the lead for good in the seventh as Leody Taveras hit a two-run homer to right field and after leading for almost the entire game, the Bees found themselves down 5-4 in the top of the seventh. Charles Leblanc kept putting on his hitting clinic for the series, adding another RBI single to make it 6-4 in the top of the seventh. Some bad defense by the Express allowed the Bees to put another run on the board, but it wasn’t enough as the Express offense continued to hit Salt Lake pitching as Anderson Tejeda blew the game open with a grand slam to left field in the top of the ninth. That destroyed any thought of a potential rally for the Bees.
Express 10 Bees 5 was the Sunday matinee final. The Bees fell to 9-13 on the season, while Round Rock improved to 14-8. This was the Bees fourth loss in a row to Round Rock and their fifth straight loss overall.
Game 5 Recap/Writeup
The fifth game of this series resulted in the fullest crowd that Smith’s Ballpark has had this year. The game was an afternoon 1:05 MT start on Memorial Day so fans decided to head to the gates. The two teams gave the fans what they were looking for. The game started off with fireworks in the first inning as the two teams combined for five total runs.
Eli White started it off with a two run RBI-single to make it 2-0 Express, but the Bees would answer. Luis Rengifo sent a high bouncing two-RBI single to tie the game right over the first baseman’s glove and down the right field line into the bullpen corner. Michael Stefanic would follow that up with an RBI single of his own, this gave Salt a 3-2 lead after the exciting first inning.
The Bees pitching couldn’t hold the lead for long, though. Leody Tavaras sent a ball over the center field wall to give Round Rock a 4-3 lead. Tavaras had a big series and he added to it again with an RBI single, giving Round Rock the lead again after Scott Schebler tied the game on a double to right in the bottom of the fourth. Jake Gatewood would tie the game again on his seventh homer of the season, this one being a blast two left field. Gatewood’s home run was number 3,800 in Bees franchise history.
Delino DeShields broke the 5-5 tie in the top of the sixth with an RBI single. Eli White would hit an insurance home run for Express, making it 7-5 in the top of the seventh. Preston Palmeiro cut the lead in half, making it 7-6 with an RBI single to right field, but a theme for the series continued for the Bees as it just wasn’t quite enough offense. Round Rock would add another run on a passed ball by Matt Thaiss to make it 8-6 and that would be the final score.
The Bees would bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but they couldn’t complete the comeback. Express 8, Bees 6. The Bees fell to 9-14 on the season, losing their fifth game of the series and sixth total game in a row.
The series finale began the same way many games in this series did, with the Bees falling behind early. This time, Eli White hit an RBI single to center field scoring one run to make it 1-0 Express. The Express lead wouldn’t even last the whole inning though. Adell, the home run leader in the minor league, would blast one over the right field wall for his twelfth home run on the season. This tied the game at 1-1.
The game was deadlocked until Curtis Terry, who has some legit power, blasted another home run, this one to deep center field. Express regained the lead 3-1 until Matt Thaiss tied it again off a bomb to right field in the bottom of the sixth. The changing point in the game came in the seventh as it looked like the Bees were about to get out of the inning unscathed. That was until Anderson Tejeda singled and stole second base, coming around to score.
A little league style play was the deciding factor in this game as Tejeda was the deciding run. Dillon Peters finished the game with a quality start for the Bees. throwing six strong innings with 10 strikeouts. It was a new team season-high. Austin Warren would be handed the tough loss for the Bees despite not allowing an earned run.
Express 4, Bees 3 was the final score as the Bees would get swept, losing all six of the series and seven in a row overall. It was a tough series for the Bees on many levels, but ultimately the inability to combine good offense with good pitching hurt them all series long. The Bees at this point were 9-15 on the season and are currently playing six straight on the road against the Tacoma Rainiers before returning home on June 10.
Featured image courtesy MILB website