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Let's try this again. Thursday evening I attended my second River Cats game as your intrepid sports reporter. This time, instead of the press pass around my neck, I held a ticket in my hand.
The split between the press pass and me was amicable and mutual. The morning following my first foray into sportswriting, I was asked, very cordially, to "please dress appropriately and professionally when covering any games at Raley Field, i.e., no shorts, T-shirts or flip flops."
The outfit I wore into the press box Monday evening? You guessed it, shorts, a T-shirt, and flip flops. The hat trick. Oops.
In accordance with this request, I decided to wear pants, a collared shirt and close-toed shoes to Thursday night's game. Granted, they were jeans, Adidas, and an extra-medium pink polo, but hey, baby steps.
I started Thursday's game in Section 119, row 15, seat 4, and couldn't have been happier.
The top of the first was over in a blink of an eye. Two pop-ups and a ground-out, and the home team was up to bat. Corey Wimberly reached on an error by the first baseman to lead off the inning. This would be the first of six errors between the two teams during a very sloppily played contest. A moment later, he advanced to second on an errant pick-off throw by Salt Lake Bee pitcher Sean O'Sullivan.
Unfortunately, Jack Cust and Chris Carter were unable to knock the runner in from scoring position. Both of the sluggers struck out, stranding the leadoff hitter at second base.
The second inning came and went. I noticed that it was Thirsty Thursdays, $2 12-ounce Millers until the top of the sixth or 8:30 p.m. A guy in line next to me asked, "It's whichever happens later, right?" That, my friends, is an optimist.
The third inning, well, the wheels came off. Two walks, followed by two errors, followed by two singles. All told, four runs scored in the top of the third and nary a one was earned. One ugly half inning and the River Cats all of a sudden had dug themselves a four-run hole that they would spend the rest of the game trying to dig themselves out of.
The River Cats were unable to answer in the bottom of the inning, O'Sullivan striking out Chris Carter for the second time, stranding Steven Tolleson at first.
Right about here, I decided to join a few friends on the lawn by the right field foul pole. I can't think of a better way to spend $8. What a great vantage point from which to watch the game. I made it out to right just in time to watch Web-gem-caliber catches by River Cat outfielders.
Leading off the fourth, the Bee's right fielder crushed the ball nearly to dead center. Corey Brown chased it down and leapt to make the catch on the warning track before crashing into the centerfield fence. The next batter, the Bee's shortstop, popped a ball up to shallow left, right in between Wimberly and shortstop Michael Affronti. It looked like they were going to run into one another, until Affronti peeled off at the last second and Wimberly dove and made the catch.
The teams switched off getting very little done at the plate for the next three innings. At one point, my friend Jacqueline was heckling Salt Lake. "Boooooo," she yelled, "booooo, Bees."
"Boo, Bee's". Ha. Sometimes it's the little things.
Finally, in the bottom of the seventh, Wimberly crushed a ball that landed in the bullpen in right field, cutting the Bee's lead to 4-1. He has stood out in the two games I've attended. He's a high-energy kid, good base runner and a scrapper. He really breathed some life into the stadium with the blast, and the good guys were on the board.
The team gave the run right back in the top of the eighth, another monster rally consisting of a walk, a stolen base, a flyout and a bunt single.
As the River Cats came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth, a fair amount of the "Thirsty Thursday" crowd still was hanging tough, many of them wearing sweaters made of Miller Lite. When Cust got on base and the the rallying cry "We will, we will, rock you" played, the crowd was as loud as it had been all night. When Eric Sogard hit a single to center, the stadium was buzzing. Brown tattooed a ball into the bullpen and what was left of the crowd erupted. Could it really happen? Can they come all the way back?
Nope, not this time. A couple soft groundouts later, and the game was over. They made it interesting, but in the end it was another disappointing loss to the team from Salt Lake. I'm 0 for 2. Hopefully, the third time will be the charm. Until then, boo, Bees.