SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Bees (64-49) came alive and exploded for five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to pick up a 9-3 victory over the Iowa Cubs in front of 6,869 fans at Spring Mobile Ballpark Thursday night.
Salt Lake got off to a slow start and fell behind in the top of the first inning after starting pitcher Barry Enright (W, 6-5) gave up a solo shot to Edgar Gonzalez.
The Bees were able to respond in the bottom of the second when right fielder Trent Oeltjen smacked a lead-off double and designated hitter Robbie Widlansky singled to tie the game at 1-1.
Widlansky went 3 for 3 at the plate with three RBIs to help the Bees get back in the game.
The Cubs came out in the top of the fourth and took a 2-1 lead when center fielder Jae-Hoon Ha ripped a double to bring home Brad Nelson, who reached on a single up the middle.
Once again, however, Salt Lake was able to answer in the home-half of the fourth. Oeltjen stepped up to the plate with two outs and calmly doubled, then stole second base to put a runner in scoring position for third baseman Roberto Lopez. Lopez accepted the challenge, driving in Oeltjen and bringing the score to 2-2.
Oeltjen managed to fill the stat sheet as he finished 3 for 3 at the plate with two doubles and a single, two stolen bases and also scored four of the Bees' nine runs to lead the way for the home team.
"You don't know if it's going to be the first pitch or the third pitch, but if it's going to be the first one (pitch), as I sort of showed tonight, I was ready to hit as soon as I got in," said Oeltjen. "Whenever I think there's a time to get an extra base to get in scoring position for the guys behind me, I'll take it."
The Bees gave up just two hits and allowed zero runs in the fifth and sixth innings to give the home team a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth.
Efren Navarro led off with a single, which Oeltjen followed with a double to put ducks on the pond for the Bees once again. Widlansky and catcher Luke Carlin ripped back-to-back singles to drive in both runners, which left fielder Drew Heid and center fielder Matt Long followed with a huge, two-RBI triple and an RBI-single to give Salt Lake a commanding 7-2 lead after six innings of play.
Enright strolled out to the mound in the top of the seventh and quickly got two outs, but got pulled after Iowa scored to bring the score to 7-3. Enright gave up eight hits and three runs while fanning four Cubs batters in his 6 2/3 innings of work.
After giving up just one run in the seventh, the Bees put two more runs up off RBIs from Lopez and Widlansky to put the nail in the coffin for the home team.
Relievers Buddy Boshers (H, 2) and Josh Judy gave up just two hits and zero runs the rest of the way to help the Bees hold on for the win.
With the victory, the Bees extend their lead over the Tacoma Rainiers to 3.5 games in the Pacific Northern Division and now own the best record in the entire PCL.
The Salt Lake Bees will try to complete the sweep of the Iowa Cubs Friday night at 7:05 p.m. at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
Ryan Love was born and raised in Holladay, Utah and is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications. He became a part-time scoreboarder and sports reporter for the Deseret News in October 2012. EMAIL: email@example.com