Buzz lose again in the ninth

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    By DAVE COLLIER

    The Buzz pitching woes continued Tuesday as the team watched Oklahoma Redhawks slugger Ruben Mateo smack a ninth-inning, two-out, two-run homer soar over the right field fence of Franklin Covey Field.

    The late-inning homer proved to be the knockout punch as the Buzz came into the ninth inning with a lead only to lose 6-5 for the second time in three games to Oklahoma.

    “Well, we almost pulled it out,” Buzz manager Phil Roof said. “At least I can say we came out wanting to play.”

    The Buzz took a 5-4 lead into the top of the ninth, when newly acquired reliever Dave Carroll walked the first man he faced, something Buzz pitchers have done in five of their last nine losses.

    Carroll got two quick outs and was replaced by finisher Jeff Harris.

    With two out and a runner on first, Mateo, one of the Pacific Coast League’s top power hitters, stepped to the plate and sent Harris’s second pitch out of the park.

    Roof questioned the pitching move after the game.

    “With Mateo, their best hitter, coming up, I thought I’d make the change and bring in a right-hander because he’s a person that dives towards the outside part of the plate,” Roof said. “I thought Harris would keep the ball on the ground. My strategy didn’t work.”

    Another controversial move ended up in a locker-room blowup between Roof and Chad Rupp. Roof opted to bring David Ortiz in to pinch-hit for Rupp in the eighth inning.

    Ortiz popped out.

    “All I was hoping for was a sacrifice fly, but he didn’t hit it deep enough,” Roof said.

    Although it caused a bit of controversy, Roof did not question this move.

    “When you have someone like a David Ortiz on the bench, it is not a big decision. It is just the right thing to do,” said Roof. “He’s capable of hitting the ball out of the park.”

    One bright spot in the rain-delayed game was Buzzman Eddie Williams. Williams’ two-run double in the bottom of the eighth extended his hitting streak to eight games and put the Buzz temporarily ahead, 5-4.

    The Buzz have lost five of their last eight games and are now on an eight-game road trip.

    Since last Thursday, Roof has lost four members of his pitching staff. Three were called up to the big leagues and one, Frank Rodriguez, was waived. The team is so desperate for pitching that Roof petitioned the Twins to sign 42-year-old Rick Anderson who pitched for the 1986 World Series Champion New York Mets. Anderson hasn’t pitched competitively since 1988.

    The Twins turned down the request, so Roof will be forced to pitch second baseman Dan Cey and first baseman Chad Rupp. That is, if Rupp is still on the roster after his outburst last night.

    The Buzz, 18-26 on the season, now head north to Canada to face Edmonton and Calgary.

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