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Home cookin’ to go

Aviators hoping recent home success can translate to road wins
Las Vegas Ballpark is pictured from an aerial view ahead of an April matchup against the Tacoma Rainiers. Photo Credit: Terrel Emerson

The Las Vegas Aviators have been flying high at home as of late and it has catapulted the team into contention in the Pacific Coast League standings.


Manager Fran Riordan and company have gone 16-11 so far at home this season and are coming off its first five-win series of the season.


“This is absolutely one of the best ballparks in all of the minor leagues,” veteran outfielder Stephen Piscotty said. “We’re very happy to show up at the park here. We travel to some of the other places and it's a little [bit of a] grind. It’s first-class, they take really good care of us and everyone’s got a smile on walking through the door.”


All 16 of Las Vegas’ home wins have come in the last 22 showings from Las Vegas Ballpark. Prior to that, the team had lost its first five home games of the season.


Defending home turf field has taken the Aviators from six games under .500 as a basement dweller to begin the year to a game better than .500 in the thick of all the PCL movement.


“It’s very light [in the clubhouse],” Piscotty said. “I think everyone’s having fun, playing loose. I don’t know when you get hot like that, it’s impressive [and] you get that confidence rolling. We’re just leaning into it and hopefully it continues.”


After a 3-9 start to the year, Las Vegas sat as the last place team in the PCL West. Now the team has thrusted instead into the sixth spot in all of the PCL following in recent stretch.


With playoff participants being made up of first and second half winners, every early win seems more crucial. Recently, the Aviators have put together a four and a season-long five-game win streak.  As of now, it's six games behind current PCL leader Sugar Land.


“Just maintaining consistency,” Riordan said. “Reminding them of the ways and the reasons why we were able to string five wins together and play much better baseball. It starts with the pitching, this [past] series has been kind of strange with all the movement with the major league team and guys coming and going.”


Despite its recent success at LVBP, Las Vegas is only outscoring opponents, 124-118. However, that mark is a far cry from the 10-46 landslide the team was outscored by through its first five home games of the year.


Aviator pitcher Osvaldo Bido delivers a pitch on the mound at LVBP. Photo Credit: Deja Lacey

“It definitely is [a hitter’s ballpark],” Piscotty said. “The altitude, it's dry, the ball carries a little bit more here than in other places and it does tend to get windy and blow out so there’s no denying that. As a hitter, you try to not think about that. You try to take your same at-bat, hit that line drive and if you get a little under one maybe in another park it's a double but here it's a homer.”


Aviator pitching is allowing just under five and a half runs a game over the last 22 outings. As a unit, it was giving up more than nine in the five-game sample size to open the new campaign.


“Our bullpen from the beginning of the season to where we are now is night-and-day,” Riordan said. “Everyone is doing their jobs, when everyone’s doing their job on both sides of the ball and we’re making plays and getting big hits and we’re making big pitches good things happen.”


Even with all the success at home, Las Vegas has to find a way to have it translate to the road. Twelve of the team’s next 18 games are away from Las Vegas Ballpark beginning with six games in Tacoma against the Rainiers of the Seattle Mariners organization.


That series is scheduled to begin tonight at 6:05 p.m.


“Everything is cyclical in this game,” Riordan said. “You could have a small sample size in the beginning of the year where we haven’t performed well of the series on the road and maybe we’ll go a month and a half stretch where we start to dominate and it all balances out.


“There’s no difference in mindset, the overall mindset is to still do the things we need to do to win games every single day. Home, road, early in the series, late in the series, middle of the series – none of it matters as long as we’re doing the things that we need to do every single day it should bring good results.”

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