After coming out on the wrong end of one-run decisions in each of the first two games of the Pacific Coast League Championship Series, Salt Lake avoided the sweep in emphatic fashion Friday night.
Jarrett Grube pitched a two-hitter and tied a season high with 11 strikeouts as the Bees stayed alive with a 9-0 romp over Omaha in Game 3 of the best-of-5 series.
"I definitely didn't expect that when I woke up this morning. I just wanted to win the game," Grube said. "I know there's a lot of pressure, every game is a must-win now, and I just wanted to have a good performance. But obviously, I didn't really expect that. I was just trying to make pitches and get outs.
"I had a good sinker going to the lefties and I was mixing that well with the split-finger. The slider, all my different pitchers we just mixed really well. The catcher [Luke Carlin] and the pitching coach [Erik Bennett] had a good game plan and we just stuck with it. Props to them, too."
The 31-year-old went 7-5 in 22 appearances for Salt Lake after an early-season promotion from Double-A Arkansas. He recorded a 4.47 ERA and struck out 104 batters while walking 48 over 108 2/3 innings.
In addition to Grube's dominant performance, the Bees broke out of a slump in which they totaled three runs in the first two games of the series in Omaha.
Efren Navarro led the charge, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs and a walk, bringing his postseason average up to .591. Roberto Lopez also collected three hits, including a two-run homer.
It was the most lopsided playoff shutout loss in Storm Chasers' history, surpassing an 8-0 setback to Indianapolis in 1992.
"[The offense] was huge. Everybody kind of went back to what we were doing all year, and we played great defense, too," Grube said. "They made some great plays for me. It was a total effort tonight, an awesome game. I think it was just our offense getting back to what they've done all year. I wasn't stressing about it, but it's awesome to see them put those numbers on the board."
Matt Long and Drew Heid also had three-hit nights as Salt Lake totaled 17. Long scored twice, while Heid drove in one run and scored a pair.
With their backs still against the wall, Grube said the Bees were optimistic since the rest of the series will be played in Salt Lake.
"All we're thinking about is winning tomorrow. This one is obviously over with, so we get to go out tomorrow and concentrate on that," he added. "That's all you can do. And we just play hard, play aggressive, so that's what we're gonna do tomorrow."
Game 4 is Saturday, with Matt Shoemaker (11-13) pitching for the Bees against Chris Dwyer (10-11).