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Aviators finish homestand .500, still in third place

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

It was a 6-6 record that the Las Vegas Aviators sported after a 12-game homestand from Las Vegas Ballpark that ended with three straight wins against the Salt Lake Bees.

The three-game win streak means a 4-2 series win for Las Vegas.

With that, the Aviators are now 43-41 on the year and are still in third place in the Western Division of the Triple-A West.

After losing four of six to Tacoma to start the homestand, Las Vegas missed another golden opportunity to make up ground and possibly take control of second place.

The Aviators six six games out of first place behind the Reno Aces while sitting five games out of second.

Thursday, W, 7-5

Las Vegas scored fast and held onto an early lead to defeat Salt Lake in the series opener of their six-game series.

Six of the eight leadoff men reached with three of them coming around to score.

The Aviators were led by designated hitter Austin Allen who ended the night, a triple shy of the cycle going 3-for-4 with a home run, double, two runs batted in, a run scored and a walk.

The only time he was ruled out was on a called third strike in the seventh inning.

Shortstop Pete Kozma went 4-for-5 with a double, an RBI, a run scored and a strikeout.

He also completed a huge 6-to-3 double play in the seventh inning to preserve a one-run lead for Las Vegas.

First baseman Francisco Peña extended his hitting streak to 10 games after going 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a walk and a strikeout.

Peña is now batting .263 on the year after hitting as low as .200 on July 4.

Since that date, he’s hitting .343 with eight home runs and 27 runs batted in.

Starting pitcher Brian Howard had a strong outing allowing two runs on six hits in five innings of work getting the win in the process.

Four of the six hits given up by Howard were extra-base hits but his lack of issuing walks kept the Bees off the board in most cases.

Howard only walked one in his outing and struck out two.

Reliever A.J. Puk got his first save of the year after working the ninth inning.

Friday, L, 6-2

The first start for reliever Matt Blackham did not go as planned for him or manager Fran Riordan in Las Vegas’ 6-2 loss to Salt Lake Friday night.

Blackham had an issue with control as he issued five walks his only time through the lineup in addition to two wild pitches.

He accounted for five of the six walks issued by Aviator pitchers in his 1 ⅓ innings pitched.

Blackham was charged with the loss despite not allowing a single hit.

On the other hand, Las Vegas hitting was as cold as it’s been this season.

Five of the first six outs of the game were via the strikeout for an Aviator team that strikes out the second least in the Western division of the Triple-A West.

Batters struck out a total of nine times in the game.

Left fielder Carlos Perez recorded the first two hits of the night for Las Vegas three innings apart from each other, in the third and again in the sixth.

Perez finished the night 2-for-4 with two singles.

The Aviators were scoreless until catcher Austin Allen hit a solo home run in the seventh inning to the lead to 6-1.

He went 1-for-3 with a home run, RBI, run scored and a strikeout.

Allen has now homered in back-to-back games and has hit safely in five straight games.

First baseman Francisco Peña nearly had his 10-game hit streak broken but he went deep in the ninth inning to avoid an 0-for-4 night at the plate.

He went 1-for-4 with a home run, RBI, run scored and a strikeout.

Las Vegas was retired in order four times while retiring Salt Lake batters in order only twice.

Saturday, L, 5-2

Starting pitcher Homer Bailey (1-2) lost his second straight decision after the Aviators came up short against the Bees, 5-2.

The team just couldn’t get it going with runners-in-scoring-position, as Las Vegas finished 1-for-11 in such scenarios.

In the first inning, the Aviators had a runner on second with one out and followed it with back-to-back groundouts.

In the second inning, Las Vegas had two-on with nobody out and went pop out, strikeout, groundout to end the inning.

By the third inning, Salt Lake got to Bailey putting three runs on the board.

Bailey finished the night allowing four runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings pitched, striking out six and walking two.

He has a 5.23 earned run average since arriving in Las Vegas.

Center fielder Skye Bolt reached base in the bottom of the third as the leadoff man but was picked off with two outs in the frame.

He later made up for it when he hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to make it 4-1 Bees.

Designated hitter Aramis Garcia connected on an RBI double in the bottom of the ninth to drive in catcher Austin Allen to cut the lead to 5-2.

It was his first hit with the Aviators.

First baseman Francisco Peña also had his 10-game hitting streak broken after going 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

Sunday, W, 11-1

Hard to tell the best stat from the Aviators 11-1 win over the Bees, Sunday night from the Las Vegas Ballpark.

Whether it’s the five-run first inning, the 21 team hits or the two guys that collected four and five-hit nights.

Center fielder Skye Bolt went 5-for-5 with a double, two RBI and three runs scored.

Designated hitter Austin Allen went 4-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored.

Bolt and Allen were the team’s No. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup.

Two others scored at least two times with five hitters recording runs scored on the night.

In addition, batters one through eight recorded hits while hitters one through seven tallied two or more.

Starter Paul Blackburn (4-6) got all the help he could handle to pick up his fourth win of the year.

He pitched six full innings, giving up one run on five hits. That one run was not earned.

In addition, he struck out six while walking none.

One run is the lowest he’s allowed since pitching five shutout innings on July 18.

Moreover, it’s the first time since June 7 that he issued no walks.

It’s also the fifth time this season that he’s pitched at least six innings but the first since June 7.

Monday, W, 14-5

Catcher Austin Allen had another great night going 4-for-5 yet again.

This time he hit three home runs to go along with his five RBI and three runs scored.

Allen now has 17 home runs and a .329 batting average, both good for second on the team.

Las Vegas scored two first inning runs off a home run from center fielder Skye Bolt, who leads the team with a .397 average.

At one point, the Aviators led 6-0.

Twelve of the 18 Las Vegas hits were good for extra bases.

Starting pitcher Daulton Jefferies (4-1) got the win in his return to Triple-A after going 1-0 with Oakland.

He allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits in six innings pitched, while striking out six and walking one.

Tuesday, W, 10-9

In the series finale, the Aviators came back from being down four runs on two separate occasions to get the walkoff win.

Three of the four innings that Salt Lake scored, Las Vegas responded.

The Aviators trailed 2-0 after the top of the first but would tie it at two by the end of the frame.

After the top of the third, Las Vegas found itself down 6-2 and would cut the deficit to two runs heading into the fourth.

It happened again when the Bees went up 8-4 on the Aviators who trimmed it to 8-7 going into the seventh.

Salt Lake would add another run in the eighth and Las Vegas would not respond until its three-run ninth.

Right fielder Marty Bechina hit a two-run single to tie the game at nine in the ninth which forced a Bees pitching change.

Bechina went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run in the sixth inning. He finished with four RBI and a run scored.

However, it was center fielder Luis Barrera who saved the night, driving in catcher Aramis Garcia for the game’s winning run.

Barrera went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a strikeout and a walk.

The man he drove in had himself a night as Garcia went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.

Designated hitter Austin Allen extended his hit streak to nine games after a 1-for-4 night, recording an RBI and a strikeout.

Pitcher Sam Moll (1-0) got his first win of the year after going ⅔ of an inning, allowing one hit while striking out one batter.

Starter Brian Howard had a rough outing getting knocked around for six runs on seven hits in just 2.1 innings pitched.

The runs came via the home run.

Howard also struck out four and walked two.

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