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Home date with Dodgers mark start of 40th anniversary home slate for Aviators

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

Las Vegas led often but didn’t lead when it mattered most as the team lost its most recent series, five games to one against Oklahoma City.

This marked the first homestand of the season for the Aviators after opening the year with three games up north in Reno against the Aces.

The five losses for Las Vegas came in a series where the team held leads in five of the six games including scoring first inning runs in four of the six matchups.

While the series with the Dodgers is over, it marked the beginning of a 12-game homestand for the Aviators which continues Tuesday, April 11 as the Salt Lake Bees of the Los Angeles Angels organization come to town for six more.

The 12-game homestand ties a season-long for Las Vegas.

Tuesday, L, 7-6

For the second time in three years, the Las Vegas Aviators dropped their home opener, this time a 7-6 loss to Oklahoma City from the Las Vegas Ballpark. Since moving to Summerlin in 2019, the team is 2-2 in home openers.

Dodgers second baseman Jahmai Jones was a consistent headache all night for the Aviators as he reached base each of the first three times he batted. Moreover, he drove in runs each time.

The first came in the top of the second inning when he homered off of Las Vegas starter Hogan Harris, scoring two. Prior to the longball, Harris had struck out three straight batters as part of five straight outs.

Harris wouldn’t make it through the second inning, leaving the game with four runs allowed (three earned) on one hit with six walks and three strikeouts.

Jones quickly got to the reliever out of the Aviators bullpen, Bryce Conley, homering off of him in the fourth inning in solo fashion. In the sixth inning, he’d drive in two more runs on a double.

Jones finished the night 3-for-4 with two home runs, a double, five RBIs and two runs scored.

Catcher Tyler Soderstrom was responsible for each of the team’s first three runs through the first two innings of the game, driving in respective runs on a first inning-double and second inning-walk.

Shortstop Kevin Smith went 2-for-4 with two singles, an RBI, run scored, stolen base and a walk. Smith now has 11 RBIs through the first four games of the season which leads all of Triple-A baseball.

Left fielder J.J. Bleday kept his power streak going, belting his third blast of the season in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to three. That was his lone hit in four trips to the plate.

First baseman Dermis Garcia and third baseman Jonah Bride also recorded RBIs.

Wednesday, L, 8-1

The Aviators came into Wednesday’s contest looking for their first win of the series and first win at home in this young 2023 season. Both of those would have to wait until at least Thursday evening as a 4-run fourth inning for the Oklahoma City Dodgers was the difference maker.

Vegas has now lost four of their first five games of the season and sit in fourth place of the five-team PCL West Division with a run differential of -6.

Oklahoma City was led by third baseman Devin Mann who went 2-for-4 with three RBIs on the night.

Getting the start on the mound for the Aviators was Colton Eastman who made his first start of the season. Eastman pitched 3.2 innings, giving up five runs (two earned runs) on three hits while walking a batter and striking out four others.

On the flip side, Dodgers winning pitcher Gavin Stone pitched five innings surrendering one run on three hits while striking out five.

Five different Dodgers hitters walked away with a hit in Wednesday’s game with three of those five having multi-hit games.

Las Vegas combined for three hits as a team with nobody having a multi-hit game. This was also the first game this season that the Aviators failed to record an RBI. Catcher Kyle McCann represented the lone run for Vegas when he scored on a double-steal with third baseman Pablo Reyes in the bottom of the second.

It is also the first time this season that the Aviators have not scored in multiple innings during a game and through this early five-game stretch, it is the fewest runs they have been held to in a game this season.

The Aviators combined for a .093 batting average as a team Wednesday night while the Dodgers combined for a .228 batting average.

Four of the eight Dodger runs came off two-out RBI situations in the fourth and seventh innings.

Thursday, L, 5-4

A ninth inning-collapse saw Las Vegas lose its third straight game while still in search of the team’s first home win of the season. Oklahoma City took the third game of six, 5-4.

Aviator pitcher Rico Garcia was one strike away from securing the win and completing a two-inning save in his fairly new role. Last season with Norfolk, Garcia picked up three saves in four opportunities.

Garcia struck out the first two batters faced in the ninth inning before hitting a batter with the count knotted at two apiece. That marked the first hit-batter for Garcia since 2019.

Dodger second baseman Michael Busch, who was hit by the pitch, later came around to score on a two-run double by designated hitter Steven Duggar on the heels of a double by shortstop Luke Williams.

A nearly self-manufactured run by OKC center fielder Drew Avans in the seventh inning proved huge as he singled to open the frame. Soon after, he’d tag up to second base on a flyout from Busch. After advancing to third base on a wild pitch from Las Vegas reliever Garrett Acton, a flyout from Williams went down as an RBI sacrifice fly.

At that point, that cut the home team’s lead down to a run.

The Aviators built their lead on the strength of a three-run second inning that started with three straight hits including a double by left fielder Cody Thomas, a single by center fielder J.J. Bleday and two-run double by second baseman Jordan Diaz.

Diaz went 2-for-4 on the day with a single, double, two RBIs, a run scored and two strikeouts.

Catcher Kyle McCan put the home team ahead on an RBI groundout right after Diaz’s game-tying at-bat. That gave Las Vegas its first lead since the first inning on Tuesday.

In the fifth inning, designated hitter Trenton Brooks went yard for the second time this season on a leadoff shot. That was his lone hit in four trips to the plate.

Starting pitcher Colin Peluse became the first Aviator starter this season to go at least five innings and he did so after coughing up the lead in the first inning. Peluse gave up two runs on a two-run double in the first inning with two outs recorded.

An inning later, Peluse worked around a two-out walk following a mound visit from pitching coach Bryan Corey. Peluse skirted around a leadoff single in the third inning before leaving the runner stranded. His first 1-2-3 inning came in the fourth.

Peluse went five innings, giving up two runs on six hits with five strikeouts versus two walks while earning the no-decision.

Friday, L, 12-6

The quest for the first home win of the season would have to wait another night as the Aviators fell to the Oklahoma City Dodgers, 12-6, Friday evening.

Las Vegas is now 1-6 to start the season and have lost their last three games. On the flip side, Oklahoma City has opened their season with a 6-1 mark, extending their win streak to six games.

It was a fast start for the home team who jumped out to a 5-0 lead at the end of one. Second baseman Jordan Diaz sent a three-run home run to left field to put the Aviators up 4-0 after a Pablo Reyes sacrifice fly the play before that drove in the opening run.

Left-fielder Cody Thomas followed up the Diaz home run with one of his own the next at-bat to extend the Aviator lead out to 5-0.

The Dodgers answered the pair of Aviator home runs with a pair of their own in the top of the second.

Center fielder Steven Duggar and left fielder Ryan Ward were responsible for the solo home runs to cut the deficit down to 5-2.

Oklahoma City grabbed their first lead of the night in the top of the fifth inning as it scratched across four runs.

Right fielder Drew Avans had a three-run double and outfielder Luke Williams hit a solo home run to give the Dodgers the 6-5 lead.

A solo homer from shortstop Pablo Reyes tied the game up at six in the bottom of the fifth.

Duggar hit his second homer of the game when he sent a three-run blast to center field in the top of the seventh. He finished the game going 3-for-5 with five RBIs and he scored two runs.

Duggar’s homer came after a pair of RBI singles from the Dodgers to grab the lead 8-6. By the end of the top half of the seventh, Oklahoma City had their largest lead of the night at 11-6.

Oklahoma City starting pitcher Robbie Erlin went 4.1 innings giving up six runs (one earned) on seven hits and three home runs to go along with striking out four.

Pitcher Jack Cushing got the nod on the bump for Vegas in this one. He pitched five innings, giving up six runs on seven hits including three home runs while striking out seven.

Saturday, W, 9-1

For the first time this season, the Aviators have a win at home after beating the Dodgers, 9-1, from Las Vegas Ballpark Saturday night.

Las Vegas jumped on its opponent early, scoring in the first inning for the third time this series. Shortstop Kevin Smith hit a home run in the opening frame to put the home team up, 1-0. That marked the third first inning home run for the team in the last 24 hours or so.

Smith leads the team with five home runs and 12 RBIs.

Despite being down in this series, 1-4, the Aviators have held leads in four of the five games.

With two outs in the first inning, Oklahoma City starter William Cuevas issued three straight walks to walk in a run, scoring the lead runner who reached on a double.

That lead runner was catcher Tyler Soderstrom, who had a great night going 3-for-4 with a single, double, home run, three RBIs and two runs scored. Soderstrom hit a double in the first inning before scoring and would add a two-run homer in the second inning to put the Aviators up 4-0. Seven of his first nine hits this season have gone for extra-bases.

Soderstrom drove in another run in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly that scored center fielder Tyler Wade, who walked and stole two bases including a double steal with the aforementioned Smith.

Wade is now 5-for-5 on stolen bases to open the year, which leads the team. Later in the seventh inning, he drove in two runs on a single for his first RBIs of the season.

Smith later scored on the third Las Vegas home run of the night, this time from right fielder Cody Thomas, who found the longball in a three-run fourth inning for the home team. Thomas has now homered in back-to-back games and now has three on the year.

Pitcher Luis Medina had another strong outing dominating in his second Las Vegas start. He danced through the first two innings working around danger with a double play in the first and a strikeout after hitting a batter in the second.

Medina got some outfield assistance to open the third inning as Thomas cut down the OKC runner, Patrick Mazeika, from right field as he was trying to stretch a single into a double.

Coming into the game, it was acknowledged that Medina would work four innings or throw 60 pitches, whichever came first. He ended his night after working four scoreless innings, allowing two hits while striking out six and walking none on 53 pitches, 33 strikes.

Through two games this season, Medina has given up just one run on two hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in 6.1 innings of work.

More importantly, the Las Vegas bullpen combined to give up one run in five innings of work while sending three men to the mound including Bryce Conley, Austin Pruitt and Billy Sullivan.

Sunday, L, 6-5

Despite holding the lead for the vast majority of the game, the Aviators dropped their fifth game in their last six outings, losing by a run to the Dodgers.

With the temperature creeping north of 85 degrees, Las Vegas donned it’s throwback Stars uniform from its inaugural season in 1983 as part of its 40th anniversary. The team will wear the uniforms on four more occasions this season.

It took extra innings but the ghost runner placed on second base to open the 10th inning came around to score for Oklahoma City on an RBI single with one out. That swing gave the visitors their first lead of the game after scoring six unanswered runs.

Las Vegas was gifted the same ghost-runner in scoring position but would have its 3-4-5 hitters, Tyler Soderstrom, Dermis Garcia and Cody Thomas, retired in order.

Free passes wound up causing the most damage for the home team beginning with starter Hogan Harris, who was making his second start against OKC this series.

Harris issued a free pass in each of the three innings he work including a hit batter in the first, a walk in the second and two walks in the third. By the second walk of the third inning, he was yanked from the mound.

In two games against the Dodgers this week, Harris combined to work 4.1 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on three hits with five strikeouts and nine walks with one hit batter.

The first three batters reached base in the fourth inning with reliever Garrett Williams on the bump for the Aviators via a walk, double and hit-by-pitch. The bases were cleared with a three-run double with one out in the inning followed by an RBI single to trim the once 5-0 home team lead to 5-4.

Reliever Garrett Acton gave up the game-tying run on a solo home run an inning later to the first batter he faced out of the bullpen.

Las Vegas was aided by another big first inning in order to snag the five-run lead. Three runs came around to score in the first inning, all on a three-run home run by Thomas with two outs in the frame. Over the last three games, the Aviators have compiled four home runs in the first inning while picking up runs in the opening frame in four of the six games played against Oklahoma City. In addition, the team had leads in five of the six games.

Shortstop Tyler Wade drove in a run on a single in the bottom of the second inning to put Las Vegas up 4-0. In addition, he swiped his sixth stolen base on the year and is still perfect on steal attempts through the first nine games of the season.

First baseman Dermis Garcia was responsible for the final run on the board for the Aviators, launching his first home home run of the season in the third inning for a 5-0 lead.

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