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Fresh off first series win Aviators return home for 6 with Rainiers

Updated: May 1, 2023

Despite losing the series opener and series finale, the Las Vegas Aviators have picked up their second series win of the season. More importantly, they’ve done it in back-to-back weeks.


Las Vegas took four of six games away from the Tacoma Rainiers from the Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin, Nevada this past week.


This recent successful stretch by the Aviators has flipped the team’s early season stance in the Pacific Coast League West standings after starting the year 2-10. Since that opening mark, the team has gone 11-4 for a 13-14 overall record.


As it presently stands, the team is slotted in the third spot in the PCL West just two and a half games behind the first-place Reno Aces and one and a half games behind the second-place Rainiers.


With that, Las Vegas will head back to the road for a six-game series against the Sacramento River Cats of the San Francisco Giants organization.


Tuesday, L, 9-8


Ghost runners played a large role in the series opening win as the Rainiers took down the Aviators, 9-8, from the LVBP.


Tacoma took advantage of a one-out walk to force a two-on, one out situation in the top of the 10th inning. With two outs, first baseman Cooper Hummel hit a two-run triple to take a 9-7 lead.


Las Vegas had a chance to respond in the bottom half of the 10th and would eventually push across a run on an RBI groundout with two outs. Moments later, another groundout ended the game.


The game went into extra innings after a fierce comeback from the Aviators after falling behind 3-0 in the first four minutes of the game. The Rainiers opened the game with a double, RBI triple and two-run home run.


Starting pitcher Colin Peluse was chased after just recording two outs. He’d leave with four runs on five hits with one strikeout and two walks. With that, he’d still leave the game relatively unscathed with a no-decision.


Coming into this game, Las Vegas starters were 2-6 versus 7-6 for the team’s relievers.


In the fourth inning, Tacoma added a solo home run to make the score at the time, 5-2.


In pursuit of victory, the Aviators had to come back from being down four runs on two separate occasions. After falling behind 4-0 in the top of the first inning, center fielder J.J. Bleday homered while right fielder Cody Thomas doubled in a run to cut the deficit in half.


Bleday now has a home run in two straight games. In addition, Thomas came into the game ranked second in the Pacific Coast League in RBI with 26 on the year.


After being retired in order in the bottom of the fourth inning, Las Vegas had 10 straight batters sat down at that point.


An inning later, the team would record its third hit of the game and its first since the first inning. With the bases loaded and nobody out, the Aviators scored a run on a double play groundout.


However, the biggest swing of the inning came off the bat of designated hitter Manny Pina who launched a two-run home run with two outs to come within a run of the Raininers’ six on the board.


Pina was playing in his first rehab game for Las Vegas as he awaits his return to the Oakland Athletics.


Wednesday, W, 18-17


Wild is the only way to describe a one-run win for the Aviators to pick up their first win of a scheduled six-game series with the Rainiers, 18-17. The win was highlighted by a double-digit inning from the home team.


That game-altering inning came in the seventh when Las Vegas produced a 10-run inning to go from down seven to up three. The first six batters reached base on a walk, two singles, a two-run single, a reach on error capped with a three-run home run by catcher Yohel Pozo.


Originally, Pozo entered the game in the fifth inning for fellow catcher Manny Pina, who played in his second consecutive rehab assignment game. To that point, Pozo was 2-for-2 with a double, home run, four RBI and a run scored.

With two outs in the seventh, Las Vegas pushed across more runs after a single, walk, single, three-run double, walk and RBI double came succinctly. The three-run double was hit by third baseman Max Schuemann who tallied both of his hits on the night in the seventh inning. He’d also single the bases loaded in his first appearance at the plate in the seventh.


Center fielder J.J. Bleday was responsible for the other run-producing double with two outs in the seventh. Earlier in the fourth inning, he hit a two-run home run and followed it up with an RBI single in the sixth.


Bleday went 3-for-5 with a single, double, home run, five RBI, four runs and a walk.


Now playing with a three-run lead, reliever Garrett Acton gave up a leadoff single. That run came across to score with two outs on an RBI double followed by an RBI single to make it 18-17 Las Vegas.


Sensing trouble on the horizon, manager Fran Riordan opted to insert reliever Billy Sullivan in for the save opportunity. Sullivan would strike out the only batter he faced as he picked up a save in his second consecutive outing.


Acton also earned his third consecutive win, all of which have come in his last four appearances.


Both teams combined accounted for 35 runs, 39 hits, 17 extra-base hits, used 10 combined pitchers, all of which issued 15 walks and struck out 16 batters in a game that elapsed three hours and 19 minutes.


Thursday, W, 9-7


A series of unanswered runs resulted in a second straight win by Las Vegas over Tacoma, this time a two-run victory from Las Vegas Ballpark.


With two outs in the first inning, the Rainiers blasted a two-run home run to jump out to a 2-0 lead over the home team. In the home half of the frame, the Aviators opened with three straight hits. This trio of hits included an RBI single from left fielder J.J. Bleday with another run coming across on an RBI sacrifice fly from designated hitter Cody Thomas.


Bleday has recorded RBIs in four straight games and is up to 17 on the year with eight coming in the first three games of this series alone.


An inning later, first baseman Kyle McCann gave Las Vegas its first lead of the game on an RBI triple that scored second baseman Zack Gelof, who reached on a walk.


Gelof would later do some damage with the bat as he tripled home a run for a 4-2 home team lead. He’d later be driven in on an RBI single from McCann.


On this night, Gelof was a terror at the plate going 3-for-3 with a single, triple, home run, four RBI, three runs scored and a walk. His biggest swing came in the seventh inning, sending the ball 409-feet for an 8-4 lead for the Aviators.


Pitcher Zach Neal made his first start of the season and recovered from that early first inning home run. He’d walk the leadoff man in the top of the fourth but leave him stranded. That runner became the first leadoff man to reach against Neal.


This start was vastly different from his latest outing at Sugar Land where he went just 2 ⅓ innings, giving up two runs on a hit while striking out three and walking one with one hit batter.


By the fifth inning, reliever Aaron Wilkerson would grace the mound and promptly issue a leadoff home run to make it 5-3, Las Vegas. In the sixth inning, a third straight leadoff man reached bae and eventually scored on an RBI sacrifice fly but it’d stay a two-run game at 6-4.


Things got even tighter as the game went on. Reliever Garrett Williams was shaky with two walks and an RBI single before being lifted in favor of fellow reliever Billy Sullivan, who’d get out of the inning via a strikeout with two-on and two outs.


Sullivan would give up two runs in the ninth inning but the lead was not lost after an RBI double from designated hitter Cody Thomas with two outs to push the lead to four runs.


Right-hander Spencer Patton recorded one out in the ninth inning and was credited with the save, his first of the season.


Friday, W, 11-6


That makes three straight wins for Las Vegas after the team beat Tacoma, 11-6 to ensure at least a series split at home from LVBP. The win improves the team to 12-13 on the year and 10-3 in the last 13 games.


Home runs in four straight innings helped propel the Aviators to victory after the team had lost the early lead.


Before the Rainiers took their first lead of the game in the top of the third inning, it jumped on the scoreboard with back-to-back home runs to open the frame. It was an RBI double that put the visitors ahead by a run.


However, center fielder J.J. Bleday tied the game with his seventh home run of the year in the bottom of the third. His power swing helped him tie fellow outfielder Cody Thomas for the most home runs on the club.


Bleday now has four home runs in the last five games.


An inning later, third baseman Jonah Bride would break that tie with a home run of his own. He’d come back for more later in the game.


Catcher Kyle McCann made it three straight innings with a home run when he went yard in to leadoff the fifth inning. One thing that made the fifth inning different from the rest was the fact that the Aviators hit two dingers that inning. The other came off the bat of first baseman Tyler Soderstrom for a three-run home run.


Bride put the finishing touches on the power display with his second home run of the night in his second straight at-bat. Entering the game, Bride had two home runs in 19 games played this season.


Tacoma designated hitter Mike Ford was responsible for the RBI double that changed leads in the third inning but his work was far from finished. He homered to lead off the top of the sixth inning and effectively begin the comeback efforts for the visitors, making it an 8-4 ballgame.


The Rainiers would load the bases with one out and soon push across two runs on a two-run single for a three-run inning.


Overall, there were eight combined home runs in this one.


Starting pitcher Colin Peluse saw a lot of threes on his stat line during his three-inning outing, giving up three runs on three hits while walking three batters against two strikeouts.


Reliever Norge Ruiz (1-0) would get the win despite giving up three runs on four hits in 2 ⅓ innings with two strikeouts and a walk.


Fellow reliever Rico Garcia picked up the six-out save, throwing two innings of hitless ball with one strikeout.


Saturday, W, 7-2


For the first time since the season began, the Las Vegas Aviators are back to .500.


This comes on the heels of a, 7-2, win over the Tacoma Rainiers to ensure the team will come out on the winning side of a second consecutive season. After starting the season 2-10, Las Vegas is now 13-13 this year.


Entering play on Saturday, the Aviators were third in the PCL West just behind Reno and Tacoma, who both sported 13-11 records.


A massive eighth-inning shift saw Las Vegas break a 1-1 tie with station-to-stage team play. With two-on and one out, right fielder Cody Thomas loaded the pads with a single. That single gave him hits in eight straight games. His previous season-high hit streak was seven games.


Tacoma gave the home team the lead with a bases loaded RBI walk to first baseman Tyler Soderstrom. Things would snowball after that as second baseman Zack Gelof and left fielder Trenton Brooks drove in two runs apiece on respective singles.


Gelof has compiled nine RBI in 12 games played this season. Meanwhile, Brooks has hit safely in 11 of the 21 games he’s played.


In that eighth inning, Las Vegas batted around, recording five hits and six runs after just having one run on four hits prior to.


Starter Colton Eastman dominated during his performance as he became the first Aviator starter this season to go six innings. He breezed through the first three innings while picking up a strikeout looking on the final out of the third inning after the pitch was overturned after a challenge from manager Fran Riordan.


Through three innings, Eastman had faced the minimum.


After issuing a leadoff walk to start the fourth inning, Eastman had allowed three of the first four leadoff men to reach base. He’d avoid damage in the situation despite allowing another walk, this time with two outs on a pitch clock violation.


Actions would repeat themselves to open the fifth inning as Eastman coughed up another walk. To that point, of the four leadoff men to reach, four were walked on. Much like he’d done all night long, Eastman got out of the jam an inning-ending double play but not until after a run scored on an RBI single to tie the game at one apiece.


As a final act, Eastman would walk the tightrope again in the sixth after yielding a leadoff walk before getting a putout, groundout and flyout to steer clear of damage.


Reliever Garrett Acton was delivering fire from the mound when he entered the game racking up four straight strikeouts between the conclusion of the seventh inning and start of the eighth. Three of his four strikeouts were looking.


Acton (4-1) would get his fourth straight win but fellow reliever Spencer Patton would shut the door for good in his lone inning of work.


Sunday, L, 14-7


It wasn’t the series finale that Las Vegas wanted as it called up young pitcher Micah Dallas from Single-A Stockton en route to a 14-7 loss Sunday afternoon to Tacoma.


The loss brought an end to a four-game win streak for the Aviators. Even with the loss, Las Vegas picks up its second consecutive series win.


Through four appearances with the Stockton Ports, Dallas went 0-1 with a 7.27 earned run average in all relief stints. In addition, he’d given up at least two runs in three of his four outings.


Dallas’ Triple-A debut didn’t go as planned and it got ugly in the early going. He walked the leadoff man to open the game before inducing a groundout and striking out a batter. However, a two-out walk put two on-base moments before three straight RBI hits by the Rainiers.


Tacoma scored on back-to-back RBI singles and a two-run double for a 4-0 first inning lead. On the way to scoring four in the frame, the visitors sent eight to the plate.


An inning later, Dallas would open the second with a leadoff single followed by a walk. Before long, the bases would be loaded with just one out recorded. Things turned really sour when Dallas served up a grand slam as Las Vegas slipped into an 8-0 hole.


Manager Fran Riordan had seen enough at that point, pulling Dallas after just an inning and two-thirds as he gave up eight runs on five hits with three strikeouts and four walks. Riordan would later get tossed for arguing with home plate umpire Chris Marco.


Walks were something that the Aviators dealt with for a vast majority of the night. As a team, Las Vegas handed out 12 walks including a bases loaded walk for a run in the sixth inning. Of those 12 walks, seven eventually came around to score.


In the fourth inning, a leadoff walk followed by a single put two in scoring position with nobody out. Tacoma would add a two-run double to take a 10-1 lead at that time.


With things already out of hand and Riordan in the back cooling off, Las Vegas sent position players Kevin Cron and Yohel Pozo to the mound to pitch.


Upon meeting his first batter, Cron gave up a leadoff home run to start the eighth inning. Later, he’d be responsible for giving up an RBI double.


Pozo, on the other hand, fooled some Rainier batters with pitches ranging between 47 and 51 miles per hour. In fact, he racked up his first career strikeout in the process.


As far as offense goes, center fielder J.J. Bleday continued to swing a hot stick with a two-out RBI triple in the bottom of the third inning. By game’s end, Bleday went 2-for-3 with a single, triple, RBI, two runs scored, a walk and two strikeouts.


The biggest hometown swing of the night came from designated hitter Manny Pina who drove in Bleday, who walked, and shortstop Nick Allen, who singled, on a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to climb within six runs at 10-4.


In four rehab games with Las Vegas this series, Pina is 5-for-13 with two doubles, two home runs, seven RBI and three runs scored.


Not much else went in favor of the Aviators. At one point late in the game, the team had 12 straight retired before a one-out walk to third baseman Jonah Bride in the bottom of the ninth.


Mid-game sub Dermis Garcia would pick up a two-run single in the ninth along with an RBI single from Pozo.


Garcia is back with Las Vegas after being designated for assignment on the heels of being removed from the 40-man roster last week.

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