Stingers moving upward

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    By Neal Lutz

    The Salt Lake Stingers are riding a roller coaster ride of ups, downs, twists and turns this year.

    “The first three weeks (of the season) we were bad,” Salt Lake Manager Mike Brumley said.

    Bad is almost an understatement. By mid-April the 2002 division and conference champion Stingers were co-owners of last place in the Pacific Coast League and had just a .231 winning percentage.

    “We were just catching bad breaks,” said second baseman Chone Figgins, who was recently called up to play for the Anaheim Angels. “That”s just baseball, it happens, but you stay with it like a team.”

    The tenacity Figgins” spoke of was just what the Stingers needed to move out of last place in the league, although they still occupied that position within their division.

    “We started playing a lot better games, but we were still loosing a lot,” Brumley said. “We just stayed patient.”

    Patience finally began to pay off for the Stingers when they began to turn things around on a road trip to Albuquerque in early May. According to Brumley, a 14-12 loss to the Isotopes was somewhat of a rebirth for the Stingers.

    After that tough loss to the ”Topes, the Stingers won 13 of their next 18 games vaulting them out of last place in the Northern Division of the PCL and only 2 1/2 games behind division leading Portland.

    “We”re the type of team that keeps battling back,” infielder Trent Durrington said. “We like to swing the bats and score runs.”

    It was that ingenious formula of hitting the ball and scoring runs that finally began to equal success for Salt Lake City as they reeled off eight straight wins.

    The winning streak, that began after a 9-1 thumping by then league-leading Las Vegas, tied the longest of any PCL team this season and was only two shy of the franchise record set back in 2000.

    More impressive than the lowly Stingers winning eight games, was the competition they defeated during the steak. It began with two wins over Las Vegas, who owned the best record in triple-A baseball.

    The next four wins came on the road as the Stingers swept the Beavers to gain four games on their first place lead. Salt Lake City continued to sting the league leaders as it got it”s final two wins against Eastern Division and American Conference leading New Orleans.

    “We just stayed after it,” Brumley said. “We kept banging away at it, and it finally turned our way a little bit. We got some breaks and started swinging the bats.”

    The Stingers out-hit their opponents 86-65 during the streak and more than doubled the three teams” run output (49-19).

    “I think after winning eight games you never know how long it”s gonna go,” outfielder Robb Quinlan said.

    The Stingers eight-game win streak was snapped Sunday by New Orleans, who defeated the Stingers on back to back nights to leave Salt Lake City with a split.

    Salt Lake City continues to face tough competition as they began a four game series with Las Vegas last night.

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