by Tai Justice
The 32-34 Salt Lake Bees had to wait until Friday, July 23, 2021 to host another series against the 34-32 Las Vegas Aviators (Triple-A Oakland Athletics affiliate) following the previous night’s game being postponed due to rain. The game was paused in the top of the second inning with one out and Las Vegas leading 2-0. This came by way of a lead-off homer run from Vimael Machin and a solo blast to right center to give the Aviators a 2-0 lead when the game was then paused due to rain. The two teams would continue the game on Friday, with a seven-inning game set to follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
Despite trailing 2-0 when the game was resumed, the Bees didn’t take long to get in front as they tacked on three runs in the bottom of the second inning as hometown kid Brennon Lund doubled down the left field line. That sent Anthony Bemboom and Jake Gatwood home to tie the game at two apiece before Preston Palmerio would add an RBI-groundout to give the Bees a 3-2 lead.
The Aviators would quickly regain the lead in the top of the third off a Fransico Peña two-run homer to deep right field. The game would see Las Vegas lead until the bottom of the sixth inning. The Bees completely flipped the script with a combined nine runs over the next two innings.
The scoring barrage started with a Jo Adell two-RBI double to deep right field, It was followed by a Kean Won RBI-single and Michael Stefanic home run to deep right field. The score was 8-4 with Salt Lake out in front just like that and they weren’t done there. The bottom of the seventh went like this: Gavin Cecchini had an RBI double, Matt Thaiss hit a home run to deep center field and Kean Wong blasted one to deep right center field for the twelfth point of the night for the Bees.
Carlos Perez would tack on a home run for Las Vegas in the top of the eighth, but the Bees would comfortably win this one, 12-5. Thomas Pannone would be credited with the win as he pitched five and two-thirds innings in relief, allowing only two runs. The win would improve the Bees to 33-34 on the season, while the Aviators would fall to 34-33.
This was part two of the doubleheader on Friday between the Salt Lake Bees and the Las Vegas Aviators. The game started 30 minutes after the conclusion of first one and was set to be only a seven-inning game.
After two scoreless innings, the Aviators would break through in the top of the third as Greg Delchmann hit an RBI-double and Vimael Machin would hit his second home run in as many days. This one was a two-run blast to deep left center field to make it a 3-0 Las Vegas lead after three innings. The Aviators would add three more in the top of the fourth and fifth and suddenly the first fireworks game of the season for the Bees wasn’t going how the fans had hoped. The Bees found themselves down 9-0 after a Carlson Perez two-run homer, a Mart Bechina solo home run to deep left field and an Austin Allen three-run home run to deep right center. The only Bees run on the night came from a Jo Adell RBI-single. The RBI would be Adell’s 59th on the season, adding to his Triple-A West lead.
The Aviators would tack on another run and that would be your final score:10-1 Aviators. The second game of the double header was completely dominated by Las Vegas. However, Bees fans got to enjoy fireworks to ring in the Pioneer Day holiday. The loss dropped the Bees to 33-35, while the Aviators improved to 35-33.
Game 3 of the six game series between the Salt Lake Bees and the Las Vegas Aviators took place in front of a sold out crowd of 11,131 at Smith’s ballpark. The top pitching prospect in the organization, Reid Detmers, took the mound in front of the sold out crowd and shined. He pitched six innings and did not allow a run. He only allowed three hits while striking out nine.
The game was deadlocked at zero through three innings until Jake Gatewood hit an RBI-single to right field. Gavin Cecchini continued his fantastic play since being called up, and hit a two-RBI single to left field. Cecchini highlighted the Bees offense by collecting a hit in nine straight plate appearances. Cecchini finished five-for-five during Friday’s completed game and then singled twice to begin Saturday. Cecchini walked in his final two plate appearances of the night to push his streak to 11 straight plate appearances safely. Both the nine straight hits and 11 straight plate appearances reaching safely tied franchise records for the Bees.
After four innings, the Bees had a 3-0 lead and that would be more than enough support for Detmers. Detmers left the game after six scoreless innings, being replaced by Jose Quijada. Quijada pitched well too, throwing two scoreless innings before Felix Peña finished the game in the top of the ninth to preserve the shutout.
The Bees would win the game 6-0 and improve to 34-35 on the season. The Aviators dropped to 35-34 on the year. Triple-A West RBI leader Jo Adell would add an RBI-single in the bottom of the sixth. That added to his RBI lead. Michael Stefanic extended his hitting streak to 15 straight games, the longest streak of the season for the Bees. The Bees and Aviators will meet for Game Four of the six game set for Sunday afternoon at Smith’s ballpark.
This game didn’t start out the way Bees fans hoped, as they trailed before some fans had even made it to their seats. Las Vegas jumped on Salt Lake Bees starter Brian Johnson early and often, scoring two runs in the first inning off a Fransico Peña two-RBI double.
The second inning wasn’t much better for Johnson as Carlos Perez blasted a grand-slam to deep left field to make it a 6-0 ballgame before the Bees had even recorded the fourth out of the game. Johnson would finish the game allowing nine hits and nine earned runs coming off eight scoreless innings against Tacoma the previous week.
Jake Gatwood would cut into the Las Vegas lead with an RBI-single in the bottom of the second. That was before Michael Stefanic and Preston Palmeiro traded off RBI-doubles to cut the Aviators lead to three. Suddenly, it felt like anybody’s ballgame again.
That wouldn’t last for long. The Aviators would respond with three more runs of their own in the top of the fifth. Cody Thomas hit a two-RBI triple to right field, Sky Bolt hit an RBI-single and Pete Kozma hit an RBI-double to deep right field. Just like that, the lead was back up to half a dozen. Taylor Ward would knock in three RBI shots for the last three runs of the night for the Bees. It wasn’t quite enough as Las Vegas would take this game, 10-6.
Michael Stefanic extended his hit streak to 15 straight games. That is the longest of the season for the Bees following a two-hit night. Gavin Cecchini finished the night hitless. That ended his tied franchise record streak of nine straight at-bats with a hit. The loss would drop the Bees to 34-36 on the year, while Las Vegas improved to 36-34.
This matchup between the Salt Lake Bees and the Las Vegas Aviators started off completely different than the previous one as team home run leader Jo Adell did what he does best. He blasted a shot to deep right center in the bottom of the first inning to put the Bees up 2-0 after one.
Las Vegas would respond with four points in the top of the second as Greg Deichmann hit an RBI-double, Marty Bechina hit a sacrifice fly to center field and Nate Mondou hit a home run to deep right field and a two-run lead had been flipped into a two-run deficit for the Bees. In the bottom of the second, Scott Schebler would hit a bomb to deep left field to cut the Las Vegas lead in half. The following inning, Anthony Bemboom hit a home run to left field. The game at that point was deadlocked at four.
The score stayed the same until the bottom of the seventh. Francisco Peña blasted a home run to deep left center field to break the tie and make it a 5-4 Aviators lead. In the bottom half of the seventh, the game would be tied once again. Taylor Ward continued his solid play from the night before, crushing a ball out to deep left field to tie the game at five. Ward finished the night four-for-five with two doubles, the game tying home run and more.
The game was tied at five apiece heading into the bottom of the ninth when a walked Drew Butera moved up to third on a ground-rule double from Taylor Ward. Matt Thaiss then drove a 1-1 pitch into the gap in center field to give the Bees a 6-5 walkoff win. This was the third walkoff win against Las Vegas alone this season and the fifth overall for Salt Lake. The walkoff win improved the Bees to 35-36 on the year, while the Aviators dropped to 36-35.
The series finale between the Salt Lake Bees and Las Vegas Aviators picked up right where yesterday’s game left off. Taylor Ward was getting big hits. He blasted a home run to deep left center field to give the Bees a 1-0 first inning lead.
It was the fifth lead home run on the year, but the Salt Lake bats went cold after that as they only managed two more hits the rest of the game. The lead off home run is where the good news stopped for the Bees on Tuesday as Las Vegas completely broke the game open in the top half of the third. They scored seven runs total on three home runs hit. Marty Bechina hit a home run to left field, Francisco Peña continued his big series with a home run to deep left field and Carlos Perez hit his second home run of the series.
Bees starter Aaaron Slegers was almost out of the inning with minimal damage done, but Pena’s home run came on a two-strike, two-out count. Slegers would take the loss, allowing seven runs, but only two were earned. Bechina would blast another home run, this one a three-run shot to deep left center field to make it a 10-1 deficit for Salt Lake Packy Naughton pitched four innings of relief for the Bees, allowing four runs, while fanning five.
Perez would tack on an RBI-double to make it a 10-run Las Vegas lead and ended the the game in a lopsided 11-1 Las Vegas victory. Michael Stefanic saw his 15-game hitting streak snapped with a 0-3 night. The loss dropped the Bees to 35-37, while improving the Aviators to 37-35 as the two teams would split the six-game series.
Featured image courtesy Deseret News