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Victories in series opener, finale not enough to pick up third straight series win

Updated: May 9

Bookmark wins to open and finish the six-game series wasn’t enough as the Las Vegas Aviators had their streak of two straight series wins snapped.

The team recently lost four of six to the Sacramento River Cats up north in California. The team is now 15-18 on the year while currently being slotted in the third spot in the Pacific Coast League West divisional standings.

As of now, first and second place are occupied by the Reno Aces (18-14) of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization and the Tacoma Rainiers (16-16) of the Seattle Mariners organization.

The most recent six-game stretch has created some intrigued in the standings as the Aviators and River Cats are now locked into a three-way tie with the Salt Lake Bees for the third spot in the division.

Las Vegas will return home for a six-game series with the Albuquerque Isotopes beginning Tuesday, May 9 from the Las Vegas Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Tuesday, W, 2-1

Las Vegas opens the month of May with a win after taking the series opener against Sacramento, 2-1, Tuesday. That marks only the second series opening win for the Aviators this season.

Overall, the team has now won five of its last six games.

The offensive connection between second baseman Zack Gelof and catcher Tyler Soderstrom carried the Aviator offense through the majority of the game.

Soderstrom drove in Gelof, who walked and stole a base, on an RBI double with two outs in the top of the first inning. In the third inning, Gelof reached base on an one-out single coupled with another stolen base. He’d be driven in again on a Soderstrom hit, this time an RBI single for a 2-0 lead for the visitors.

Soderstrom went 2-for-4 with a single, double, two RBI and a strikeout. Gelof went 1-for-3 with a single, two stolen bases, two runs scored, a strikeout and a walk.

Pitcher James Kaprielian made his first start for the Aviators since April of last year after recently being sent down from the Oakland Athletics. He danced around any real danger before allowing his first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Kaprielian gave up back-to-back one-out hits including a single and an RBI double to shave the deficit in half. He’d leave the game after working 3.1 innings, yielding a run on four hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

Relievers walked the tightrope the rest of the way to allow Las Vegas to escape with the victory.

Pitcher Trevor May gave up a leadoff double to open the sixth inning before inducing back-to-back groundouts. He’d walk another batter before getting another groundout to end the inning.

It was righty Rico Garcia’s turn in the eighth when he started things out with consecutive walks followed by three straight strikeouts, two of which were swinging.

Finally, reliever Spencer Patton closed down the ninth after loading the bases with a two-out walk on a game-ending flyout.

Wednesday, L, 7-2

Sacramento evened the playing field with a win Wednesday over Las Vegas, 7-2. The visitors were plagued by a slow start handicapped by some aggressive baserunning tactics.

With the game scoreless in the bottom of the second inning, the River Cats were the recipient of back-to-back two-out walks before an RBI single gave the team their first lead of the series. An inning later, the team would add another run on an RBI sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.

It was the fourth inning where the wheels really came off starting with a leadoff ground-rule double that would come around to score on an RBI single. At that time, Sacramento’s 3-0 lead was the largest lead of the series for either team.

Two more runs were plated on a two-run home run while two more came to pass on an RBI single and RBI sacrifice fly. That five-run inning put Las Vegas in a 7-0 hole.

Starting pitcher Luis Medina made his return to the Aviators after a brief stint with the Athletics. Things didn’t go as planned for the 24-year-old as he went 3.1 innings, giving up seven runs on six hits with four strikeouts and six walks.

There were 17 combined walks in this game including nine drawn by Las Vegas batters.

Second baseman Zack Gelof helped spark the late Aviator offense with a leadoff double to open the sixth inning. He’d be driven in on an RBI single from first baseman Tyler Soderstrom to put the visitors on the board.

Earlier in the game, Las Vegas had early inning situations with runners on-base however, the team had baserunners caught stealing on two separate occasions. Moreover, the team went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

The final Aviator run of the night came across on an error.

Thursday, L, 7-6

In a heartbreaking fashion, Las Vegas were beaten by a walkoff in the third of six games against Sacramento Thursday night, 7-6.

All seven River Cats runs were scored in the final two innings as the Aviators dropped back-to-back games for the first time since mid-April. En route to the loss, Las Vegas lost two different leads.

In the first inning, the visitors jumped on the board first on an RBI sacrifice fly from left fielder Cody Thomas. He’d later come up big again for the Aviator offense.

An inning later, designated hitter Tyler Soderstrom plated two runs on a double with two outs to put Las Vegas up, 3-0. Soderstrom went 2-for-5 with a single, a double, two RBI and two strikeouts.

Thomas would put the team up its largest lead of the day at five runs on a two-run home run in the fourth inning after two straight strikeouts threatened a leadoff walk and stolen base. He went 2-for-4 with a single, a home run, three RBI and two runs scored.

All things fell apart in the home half of the eighth inning as Sacramento racked up four hits through the first five batters of the inning including a two-run single and RBI double to make the score 5-3 in favor of Vegas. To that point, the River Cats had compiled just four hits through the first seven innings of the game.

The game was eventually tied at five apiece on a two-run single with two outs in the frame.

More of a rollercoaster awaited in the ninth inning as a sacrifice bunt from right fielder Trenton Brooks scored a run for Las Vegas to regain the lead for a second time on the day.

That lead would be short-lived after a leadoff walk, one-out hit-by-pitch and two-out walk loaded the bases with a chance for a walkoff finish for the home team. That back-breaking hit came to pass via a two-run single that ended the game.

Reliever Chad Smith worked ⅔ of that five-run eighth inning, giving up five runs on five hits with a strikeout and a walk.

Fellow reliever Billy Sullivan pitched a full inning, giving up the deciding two runs on two hits with two strikeouts and a walk.

Friday, L, 6-5 F/11

For just the third time this season, the Aviators have lost a third consecutive game after dropping an extra innings contest to the River Cats, 6-5. That marked the seventh one-run loss of the season for Las Vegas while dropping its third extra-innings game in as many tries.

Three of the four games this series have been decided by one run.

After falling behind by three runs earlier, catcher Tyler Soderstrom singled with one out before coming across to score on an RBI double from second baseman Zack Gelof to get the Aviators on the board.

Things would stay quiet until the ninth inning where Las Vegas stared its final chance in the eye with first baseman Dermis Garcia up to bat. Garcia homered for two runs on the first pitch he saw with two outs recorded.

Late last month, Garcia was designated for assignment on the heels of being removed from Oakland’s 40-man roster but made his way back to the Aviators after clearing waivers.

Garcia is batting .238 this season with four home runs and 16 RBI.

Center fielder Conner Capel walked with the bases loaded in the top of the 10th to give Las Vegas its first lead of the night at 4-3 after scoring four unanswered runs.

That mark would soon be matched by Sacramento in the bottom half of the frame via an RBI sacrifice fly to knot the game at four apiece.

Midgame replacement Jonah Bride gave the Aviators yet another lead in the top half of the 11th inning on an RBI single with two outs while facing his final strike.

THis time around, the River Cats got it going early and put it away for good. Things opened with an RBI single on the first pitch of the bottom of the 11th to tie the game once again, this time at 5-5.

Three batters later, another run would be plated on an RBI single for a 6-5 final for the home team.

Sacramento has scored 10 runs in the eighth inning or later over the last two games.

Reliever Joseph Wieland (1-2) earned the loss as well as his first blown save of the year in his 1.1 innings of work where he allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

Starter Zach Neal went five innings, giving up three runs on five hits while striking out three and walking three.

Saturday, L, 9-3

Another loss for the Aviators tied a season-long four-game losing streak as the team fell to 14-18 on the season. The loss ensures a series loss for Las Vegas while ending a streak of back-to-back series wins.

Pitcher Colton Eastman (0-4, 4.13 ERA) suffered another loss as he was plagued by an inability to get out the leadoff man. The game opened with back-to-back doubles by Sacramento to open the day’s scoring. Another run would score in the opening frame on a wild pitch from Eastman.

In the third inning, the leadoff man reached via a home run to push the home team lead to 3-0.

Eastman’s final inning of work came in the fifth inning, beginning with a hit-batter, who’d later steal second and third base. Four of the five leadoff men who faced Eastman reached.

After a one-out walk, Eastman would serve up a two-run single as Las Vegas fell behind by five runs. A fielder’s choice out still brought across another run.

Eastman left the game after those five innings on the mound where he gave up six runs (five earned) on seven hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Reliever Norge Ruiz didn’t have much better luck with the first leadoff man he faced as his outing started with a leadoff double and consecutive RBI singles. Ruiz would give up another RBI single with two outs in the sixth for a 9-2 River Cats lead, the team’s largest of the game.

Through the first seven batters of the game, the Aviators struck out six times including going down looking five times. The team’s first hit of the game didn’t manifest until a one-out single in the fourth inning from left fielder Conner Capel. Capel would later be involved in an inning-ending double play.

Catcher Yohel Pozo scratched across the first Las Vegas run of the day after a leadoff single by second baseman Zack Gelof. Pozo would later score on an RBI single from Capel to trim the deficit to four.

Las Vegas center fielder Max Schuemann opened the ninth inning with a ground-rule double before being brought across to score on an RBI single from shortstop Pablo Reyes.

The Aviators had three of its nine leadoff men reach base with all of them coming in the last four innings. Two of the three leadoff men eventually scored.

Sunday, W, 2-1

It was a perfect bookmark ending to a six-game series for Las Vegas as it picked up a, 2-1, series finale win against Sacramento Sunday. The win marks the team’s second of the six-game spurt ending a streak of two straight series wins.

Everything started early with back-to-back singles by third baseman Jonah Bride and right fielder Conner Capel with one out in the first inning. Catcher Tyler Soderstrom drove in a run on an RBI single but had his two-run single chances dashed at the plate as Capel was thrown out as the trail runner.

Already leading 1-0, Las Vegas got a leadoff single from designated hitter Yohel Pozo followed by a two-out double from second baseman Zack Gelof. That initiated a pitching change from Sacramento, opting to send in reliever Keaton Winn for starter Alex Wood.

Facing Winn on a 1-1 count, a single from first baseman Dermis Garcia scored another run for a 2-0 lead for the visitors on a throwing error from the shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald. Garcia went 3-for-3 with three singles as the run went unearned.

Pitcher James Kaprielian dominated from the mound again with a five-inning shutout performance, yielding just three hits while striking out three versus zero walks. As a result, he earned his first win of the Triple-A season.

In two games with the Aviators this season, Kaprielian has gone 8.1 innings, allowing just one run on seven hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. Both appearances came in this series and were both of the Aviator wins.

The Las Vegas bullpen picked him up to the tune of four innings of work, giving up an unearned run on two hits with five strikeouts and five walks. The unearned run went to the stat line of reliever Billy Sullivan.

Fellow reliever Garrett Acton picked up his first save of the season collecting three strikeouts on his five recorded outs.

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