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Opening series salvaged with win in finale

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Las Vegas salvaged an early season series with intra-state rival Reno by capturing a victory in the finale of a three-game series, the team's lone win of the set.

After dropping contests on Friday and Saturday, the Aviators were aided by an offensive explosion in the series finale that saw the team blasts seven home runs including multiple home run outings for both middle infielder Kevin Smith and outfielder J.J. Bleday.

The bullpen was roughed up to open the year to the tune of 18 runs allowed on 27 hits in just 16 1/3 innings of work. These numbers include 14 strikeouts versus nine walks.

With a 1-2 record, Las Vegas will now head to its home state to prepare for its home opener to start a six-game series with the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

That series is set to begin Tuesday, April 4 from the Las Vegas Ballpark.

Last season, the Aviators went 35-40 at home.

Friday, L, 13-9

Designated hitter Cody Thomas became the first player to hit for a cycle on Opening Day for Las Vegas but the Aviators dropped their season opener to the Aces, 13-9.

Thomas put the road team on the board first with a two-run home run as part of a three-run first inning from Greater Nevada Field. By the end of the fifth inning, he was 3-for-3 with a single, double and home run.

The final leg of his cycle came in the top of the seventh inning, driving in two runs in the process. He went 4-for-5 with all four legs of the cycle, driving in four runs, scoring two and striking out once.

First baseman Dermis Garcia went yard for his lone hit of the day in that same seventh inning, scoring two to tie the game at nine apiece.

Las Vegas’ bullpen couldn’t contain the Reno offense as it broke the tie with a three-run home run in the bottom half of the seventh.

That wasn’t the first trouble the Aviators’ bullpen experienced in this one including using two pitchers in the sixth inning, where the Aces scored two runs on two hits. That sparked a stretch of eight runs over a four-inning span for the home team.

Relievers Jake Fishman and Garrett Acton combined to give up five runs on six hits with two strikeouts and a walk. Acton was given the loss.

Starting pitcher Colin Peluse gave up four straight one-out hits in the bottom of the second inning including a two-run double and two-run home run to lose the original 3-0 lead landed on Thomas’ opening-inning blast.

After giving up an RBI double in the third inning, Peluse would finish the frame but would not return to the mound after heading for the dugout. In his first outing of the year, he yielded five runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and a walk in three innings of work.

Saturday, L, 15-10

Less than halfway through game two of a scheduled three, Las Vegas found itself down double-digits to Reno, with very little signs of life. In the end, the Aviators dropped a second straight game to the Aces, this time, 15-10.

Five runs scored in the bottom of the third inning with three of them coming on two doubles by Las Vegas native Jake Hager and fellow infielder Pavin Smith. To compound matters, Reno added six more runs an inning later, all of which came with two outs in the inning.

Pitcher Norge Ruiz relieved starter Jack Cushing during that fourth inning and proceeded to give up four runs on a single, triple and home run.

In his first outing this season, Cushing allowed seven runs on six hits while striking out two and walking two in 3.1 innings of work. Every Las Vegas pitcher gave up at least one earned run for 15 total runs allowed on 16 hits.

The Aviators trailed by 11 runs on two separate occasions.

Center fielder Cal Stevenson opened the scoring in the fifth inning for the visitors, plating a run on an RBI single. He later added another run on an RBI double along with third baseman Jonah Bride in the top of the seventh inning.

Stevenson went 3-for-4 with two singles, a double, two RBIs, a run scored and a walk.

Las Vegas’ biggest inning came in the eighth when it scored four runs, three of which came on one swing off the bat of shortstop Kevin Smith. That was his lone hit of the night in four trips to the plate.

Designated hitter Dermis Garcia and right fielder J.J. Bleday added runs on respective RBI doubles and triples. First baseman Trenton Brooks rounded out the field with an RBI on a groundout in the same inning.

Sunday, W, 13-2

Las Vegas packed the power in the series finale against Reno, picking up its first win of the new year, 13-2.

The Aviators were powered by seven home runs by four different players including multi-home run-outings from two separate players.

Back-to-back blasts in the top of the second inning from catcher Tyler Soderstrom and center fielder J.J. Bleday gave Las Vegas its first lead since the first inning of Friday’s game. Soderstrom later added an RBI double to his stat line.

Bleday would make his presence felt again in the fourth inning, Bleday would leave the yard again, picking up his second home run of the season in the same contest. He finished the night going 2-for-4 with two home runs, two RBIs, two runs scored with a strikeout and walk.

Shortstop Kevin Smith had the biggest day, slugging three home runs for a grand total of four in a two-day span

His first dinger came in the third inning in the form of a two-run shot. He had an encore performance in the seventh inning, adding two more runs to the board for the Aviators.

With one out in the eighth inning, Smith sent his third longball over the wall to put the visitors up 10-2.

At the conclusion of the game, Smith had racked up four hits in six at-bats with three home runs, a single, seven RBIs, three runs scored and two strikeouts.

Designated hitter Trenton Brooks hit his first home run as a member of the Aviators in the ninth inning to plate two runs and give Las Vegas the deciding 13-2 lead.

Reliever Garrett Acton was charged with the game’s only runs after coughing up a two-run home run in the third inning after taking the mound for starter Luis Medina.

In his first Triple-A start, Medina went 2.1 innings without giving up a hit despite allowing a run to go along with three walks and a strikeout.

Pitcher Billy Sullivan picked up the win in the first Triple-A outing of his career, pitching one scoreless inning allowing one hit in the process with a strikeout and walk.


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