SALT LAKE CITY – Action started slowly for the Sacramento River Cats against the Salt Lake Bees on Saturday but picked up toward the end of the contest, as Sacramento dropped three runs in the top of the seventh before escaping a bases loaded jam in the eighth to claim
SALT LAKE CITY – Action started slowly for the Sacramento River Cats against the Salt Lake Bees on Saturday but picked up toward the end of the contest, as Sacramento dropped three runs in the top of the seventh before escaping a bases loaded jam in the eighth to claim a 4-3 victory.
It took until the final third of the contest for the River Cats (67-81) to take their first lead, scoring their first two runs of the seventh thanks to a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Donovan Walton. Putting the finishing touch on the inning was an RBI-single by Bryce Johnson, which not only gave Sacramento the lead for good but proved to be the game’s final run.
However, the rest of the contest was not without excitement, as the River Cats had to work around an eighth-inning rally by the Bees (69-79) that saw Salt Lake load the bases against the Triple-A wins leader Nick Avila. A pair of walks and a single threatened to take the lead back for Salt Lake, but Avila regained composure and punched out the final hitter of the frame to keep the score locked.
Each team threw only one clean inning in the entire contest, but Sacramento picked the ideal spot for theirs as it came behind the arm of Erik Miller who entered in a save situation in the bottom of the ninth. Following an outing in which he saw a pair of runners reach base before getting his 13th save, the southpaw made sure there was no excitement tonight as he induced a groundout, a flyout, and a line out to close the contest.
That marked the 14th save of the year for Miller, the most in a Sacramento season since Jeremy McBryde closed out 17 contests during the 2014 campaign.
Both teams threatened throughout much of the contest, which started with each team putting at least one runner on in the first two frames. Wade Meckler doubled to open the contest but was left stranded, as were a pair of runners in the away half of the second.
Scoring started in the bottom of the third after Salt Lake benefitted from a Sacramento fielding error at first base, but the River Cats countered with a tally of their own in the fourth by pushing across a run on a double play ball with the bases loaded.
Momentum continued to swing in the home half of the inning when Salt Lake regained their advantage courtesy of an RBI double from Preston Palmeiro and a sacrifice fly from Jordyn Adams that put the Bees in front 3-1 at the time.
Sacramento failed to convert on a golden opportunity after they loaded the bags with free passes in the sixth, and the score looked like it may get dicey in the bottom of the inning when Salt Lake returned the favor by loading the bases. It took a stellar defensive play by Casey Schmitt to keep the score locked, as he was able to track down a fly ball in shallow left field before turning and firing a one-hop strike to home plate which saved a run and ended the inning.
That play allowed the River Cats to drop their three-spot in their next at-bats and claim their second win of the series while also securing the victory for Juan Sanchez (3-3), who leveled his record after he tossed 1.2 scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and one walk in addition to a pair of strikeouts. For his work escaping danger in the eighth, Avila picked up his fifth hold of the year.
Taking the loss for the Bees was Kenyon Yovan, who was also charged with a blown save as he was responsible for all three runs in the seventh despite not allowing a hit in his 1.0 inning of work.
Walton and Johnson were the only pair of River Cats to drive in runs, but the duo of Trenton Brooks and Brett Wisely tallied the only multi-hit efforts with the former going 2-for-3 with a run scored while the latter was 2-for-4.
Tomorrow’s contest closes the book on the 2023 campaign, and the two teams will line up for the final game of the year at 12:05 p.m. from Smith’s Ballpark.