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Las Vegas playoff chances dimmer after another losing series to Reno

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

The potential playoff light for the Las Vegas Aviators is getting dimmer by the day.

For the second time in as many series against Reno, Las Vegas missed a vital chance to put a dent in the Pacific Coast League West standings. Overall, the Aviators are 6-18 against the Aces this year.

With a 63-66 overall record, Las Vegas is now nine games behind Reno for first place with 21 games left on the schedule.

The team will travel to Sacramento for a six-game series with the River Cats that is set to begin Tuesday, Sept. 9. First pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m.

Tuesday, L, 5-1

A short-lived lead didn’t result in a much-needed win for Las Vegas as the team fell to Reno, 5-1, Tuesday night.

The slide in the standings continues as the Aviators are now eight games back of first place.

Scoring on the day didn’t start until the fifth inning when catcher William Simoneit connected on an RBI single with two outs in the frame. That marked his first Triple-A RBI of his career and would serve as the only Las Vegas run on the night.

That lead only lasted until the bottom half of the inning as a walk and a double put the team in a bad position with one out. Both runs came across to score on a two-run double to put the Aces up, 2-1.

An inning later, runs scored during appearances from three straight batters via an RBI double, RBI sacrifice fly and RBI single.

With that, starting pitcher Collin Wiles was done. He went 5.2 innings, giving up five runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and a walk. Wiles (8-11, 5.53 ERA) just concluded a month of August that saw him go 0-5 with a 6.89 ERA.

The closest the Aviators would get was with a runner on second with two outs in the eighth inning. Center fielder Mickey McDonald was that runner after picking up his third hit of the night during a 3-for-4 night with three singles and a strikeout.

He accounted for half of the team’s six hits while none of the six went for extra-bases.

McDonald would be left stranded after a strikeout ended the inning. In fact, five of the last six outs of the game came via strikeout.

Wednesday, L, 4-1

Back-to-back losses for Las Vegas ended the month of August as the team continues to dig itself into a deeper hole in the standings. Reno took this one by a final score of 4-1.

Since the start of July, the Aviators are 19-32 after holding onto the first place spot in the division for 47 days. Now the team is nine games back of the first spot after dropping their 15th game in 20 meetings against the Aces.

A big first inning from the home team set Las Vegas up for failure early. Reno scored four first inning runs beginning with a two-run home run with one out in the inning. Later in the frame, two more runs scored on back-to-back RBI singles for a 4-0 lead.

Aviators starter Jared Koenig never made it out of that opening inning, going ⅔ of an inning, giving up four runs on six hits while recording a strikeout. Koenig is now 5-6 on the year with a 4.55 ERA.

The Las Vegas relievers came in and calmed the storm even getting out of several jams. In the bottom of the second inning, the team got out of a two-on, nobody out situation after getting a caught stealing out, strikeout and flyout immediately following a two-out walk.

More danger was averted in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Aviators got out of a bases loaded jam with a strikeout, caught stealing and lineout to end the scoring threat.

While Reno missed chances, Las Vegas missed even more. The Aviators missed opportunities to put runs on the board in crucial moments in the sixth, eighth and ninth innings.

In the sixth and ninth innings, Las Vegas threatened with two runners on and one batter out but failed to produce runs in both instances. In the eighth inning, the team was able to put two runners on with nobody out but a double play and strikeout ended that scoring chance.

The team’s lone run came in the fourth inning on a leadoff home run by third baseman Matt Davidson for his 21st home run of the year to go along with his 47th RBI.

For the second straight game, the Aviators produced six hits.

Thursday, W, 5-4

A bullpen game for Las Vegas resulted in an extra innings win for the team, beating Reno 5-4 Thursday night.

The win ends a three-game losing streak as the Aviators capture their first win of this series, picking up their sixth win in 21 tries against the Aces.

Third baseman David MacKinnon played the pivotal role, knocking in a run on an RBI double with one out in the 10th inning. The hit scored right fielder Vince Fernandez, who also came up big in the team’s win.

MacKinnon went 2-for-5 with a single, double, RBI, run and two strikeouts in his third game back down with Las Vegas.

The Aviators scored four of its five runs in the seventh inning or later, beginning with an RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh to cut the score to 4-2.

An inning later, Reno gifted Las Vegas two runs on back-to-back RBI walks with the bases loaded to tie the game at four.

Aside from scoring the game-winning run, Fernandez opened the day’s scoring with an RBI single in the top of the first inning as the final of a string of three straight one-out singles.

The Aces tied the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the third inning on an RBI single with two outs off of Aviators starter Miguel Romero.

Romero went three innings, giving up that run on three hits with a strikeout.

Reno eventually took the lead in the sixth inning on an RBI double. That was the first of three runs scored in the frame.

Lefty reliever Aaron Brown entered the game in relief of right-handed flame thrower Domingo Tapia with two runners on and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Brown induced a lineout and flyout to get out of danger unscathed. He’d later get credited for the win to improve to 6-3 on the season with a 5.64 ERA after working 1.2 innings with a strikeout.

Friday, W, 5-2

September has started well for Las Vegas, as it carved out back-to-back wins against Reno for the first time since May. The Aviators beat the Aces, 5-2, Friday night from Greater Nevada Field.

A 5-0 lead was enough for Las Vegas to keep off the PCL West’s leading team. Now, the Aviators trail the Aces by seven games in the division.

Third baseman David MacKinnon drove in the first run on a two-out, RBI ground-rule double. Last night, MacKinnon drove in the game-winning run in last night’s win for the Aviators.

His RBI double in this one scored catcher Beau Taylor, who originally reached on an error. MacKinnon went 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI, run scored and a walk.

An inning later, right fielder Vince Fernandez rounded the bases on a two-run home run with one out. He is now batting .400 this series with a double, home run and three RBI after his 2-for-4 night in this one.

The last runs were scored in the fifth inning on back-to-back two-out RBI doubles by designated hitter Billy McKinney and second baseman Nate Mondou. The latter went 3-for-4 with two singles, a double, an RBI and a run scored.

Reno didn’t score its first run of the game until the bottom of the sixth inning. By then, Las Vegas starter Ty Damron was long gone.

Damron pitched five scoreless innings, yielding five hits while striking out three to one walk in his second Triple-A start and fifth appearance. He is now 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA.

Reliever Jake Walkinshaw recorded the ever-rare four inning save in his Triple-A debut, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits while issuing a walk.

Saturday, L, 8-7

Las Vegas lost a heartbreaker Saturday night that prevented the team from taking three straight against Reno for the first time this season.

In a wild contest, the Aviators battled back from 6-0 to take the lead late. However, it ultimately came down to timely hitting as the Aces won on a walkoff swing by a relatively familiar face.

Reno center fielder Jordan Luplow led the charge for the home team, accounting for four of the first six runs for the Aces on three home runs. He only needed to see eight pitches for those three home runs as well.

He struck on the first pitch he saw in the first inning before launching the second pitch he saw over the wall during his second at-bat. Finally, his third home run came on a 2-2 count.

Luplow was playing in his fourth game with Reno since being optioned down from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The long balls were a sign to come as the Las Vegas comeback effort started in the fifth inning.

Catcher Beau Taylor hit a two-run home run with one out to put the Aviators on the board. He has hit three home runs in his last nine games played.

Designated hitter Jordan Diaz got in on the action by hitting another two-run home run in the seventh inning with nobody out. That was his second home run of the year.

Five batters later, first baseman Matt Davidson connected on a three-run home run to give Las Vegas its first lead of the night. He now has 22 home runs this year which leads the Aviators.

However, trouble came in the bottom of the ninth when reliever Garrett Acton ran into two-out trouble. After recording back-to-back flyouts to start the frame, he gave up a single and game-ending two-run home run by Reno’s Jake Hager.

Hager is also a Henderson, Nevada native.

Acton (2-5, 5.12 ERA) is now 1-for-6 in his last six save opportunities.

Sunday, L, 13-12

Las Vegas lost its second straight one-run game, suffering its fourth loss in this six-game series against Reno. This season, the Aviators are 6-18 against the Aces.

Both teams combined for 18 runs through the first four innings of a game that featured three ties and six lead changes.

Las Vegas opened the game with three straight hits including run-producing hits from designated hitter Jordan Diaz and right fielder Billy McKinney. Diaz drove in a run on an RBI double while McKinney scored on an RBI single.

That duo would strike again later.

Reno would take its first lead of the game in the bottom half of the first, on the way to five first inning runs.

Aviators starter Jared Koenig would only go three innings in this one, coughing up seven runs on eight hits while striking out one and walking two.

As part of fourth straight hits in the top of the fourth inning, the tandem of Diaz and McKinney struck again, both driving in runs on RBI singles respectively. Those two runs tied the game at seven apiece, the second tie of the day.

Third baseman David MacKinnon put Las Vegas back in the lead on an RBI sacrifice fly for the third lead change of the game.

While Reno would retake the lead, Diaz’s RBI groundout in the top of the seventh inning provided fans with the fifth lead change of the game and the third lead for the road team, 11-10. MacKinnon added another run on a two-out RBI single for his only hit in four at-bats.

For every Aviator momentum builder, the Aces had an answer.

Recently Reno hero Jake Hager cut the deficit to a run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Two batters later, the Aces cashed in on the sixth lead change of the game after a ground-rule double knocked in two runs.

That sequence marked the second straight blown save for Las Vegas. This time it was reliever Brent Honeywell Jr. (0-1, 12.15 ERA), who gave up three runs on three hits in his one inning of work while also recording a walk.

Diaz nearly sparked a comeback in the ninth inning after leading off the frame with a walk. He was followed up by back-to-back strikeouts and a game-ending flyout.

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