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Third straight Aviator win saves series split against Chihuahuas

Updated: Jun 6

Three straight wins helped save the Las Vegas Aviators from a series loss as they split six meetings with the El Paso Chihuahuas this past week.

Las Vegas opened the series by dropping the first three games of the series while being outscored 47-21. Throughout the final three games of the series, the Aviators held the scoring advantage 28-18.

In addition, the win improves Las Vegas to 15-15 on the year from Las Vegas Ballpark. Overall, the Aviators are 26-31 this season and currently still sit in last place of the PCL West.

At the start of the series, Las Vegas was tied for third in the division.

Now, the Aviators will pack their things and head to the road for six games with the Sacramento River Cats. Having already played six games with Sacramento this season, Las Vegas has won two of those games.

Tuesday, L, 15-14

Nearly 30 combined runs saw Las Vegas lose its fourth straight series opener, dropping this one, 15-14, to El Paso.

The Chihuahuas batted around in back-to-back innings to take control of the game and regained control of the game ensuring the incoming Aviator comeback would fall short.

El Paso opened the seventh inning with four straight hits including two RBI singles to tie the game at seven runs apiece. The visitors flipped the lead on an RBI sacrifice fly later in the frame.

An inning later, the Chihuahuas sent 10 more up to the plate again with six runs coming across to score. The eighth inning runs came in the form of a leadoff home run, RBI single, two-run double, RBI single while the final run was scored on a throwing error by third baseman Jordan Diaz.

Pitcher Aaron Wilkerson made his third start of the season and his first since May 18. He had allowed at least one run in four straight appearances.

In this one, Wilkerson was gassed early, throwing 83 pitches in just 2 ⅔ innings of work. He gave up three runs on five hits with three strikeouts and four walks.

The first 1-2-3 inning for Las Vegas pitching didn’t come until the fifth inning.

The Aviators nearly had home runs level the playing field but would wind up one run short of completing their comeback effort to tie the game.

Right fielder Trenton Brooks hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to inject energy into a rather quiet LVBP. Brooks went 4-for-6 with two singles, a double, a home run, four RBI, two runs scored and two strikeouts.

An inning later, mid-game catcher replacement Yohel Pozo popped a solo home run with one out to climb to within a run of tying the game. Las Vegas would never inch closer.

Earlier in the contest, the Aviators were carried by the bat of left fielder Conner Capel, who went 3-for-5 with a single, a double, a home run, RBI, three runs scored, a strikeout and a walk.

First baseman Kyle McCann scored Capel on an RBI single in the fifth inning to give Las Vegas its first lead of the game.

Wednesday, L, 20-5

El Paso smashed Las Vegas offensively for the second straight game, erupting for five more runs than the 15 it put up Tuesday night in the series opener.

It turned into a hit parade as the Chihuahuas batted around in three separate innings. The team was aided by two players with seven-plus RBI on the night.

The Aviators had a hard time turning away shortstop Jose Iglesias and third baseman Jantzen Witte who combined to go 9-for-13 with three singles, two doubles, four home runs, 15 RBI, seven runs scored and two strikeouts.

Iglesias homered on the first pitch he saw in the first inning to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. He hit his second of the game in the top of the fourth inning with a runner on this time. Finally, he hit a third dinger of the game in the eighth inning with another runner on to cap his eight RBI night.

Witte tallied three singles but his biggest swing of the night came in the third inning when he hit a grand slam in the first of two six-run innings. El Paso also recorded a four-run eighth inning when Iglesias blasted his third homer of the night.

Starting pitcher Adam Oller (1-2, 7.02 ERA) didn’t make it through three innings en route to the loss. He went 2 ⅔ innings where he gave up seven runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and three walks.

Oller made his second start of the year and has a combined stat line of 6 ⅔ innings pitched, yielding 11 runs on 12 hits with seven strikeouts and six walks during those outings.

It’s the second straight game where the Las Vegas starter went less than three full innings.

Aviator relievers Norge Ruiz and Billy Sullivan combined to give up eight runs on five hits in two innings pitched with two strikeouts and two walks.

As a collective, Las Vegas pitching issued eight walks on the night while original designated hitter Yohel Pozo even took the mound for an inning and a third. He gave up three hits but did not walk a batter while picking up his second strikeout of the season.

The offense was far and few for the Aviators as catcher Kyle McCann made the biggest splash in the form of a two-run home run in the eighth inning. Second baseman Zack Gelof and third baseman Max Schuemann both recorded an RBI in addition to Pozo picking up his 14th of the year.

Thursday, L, 12-2

Through the first three games of this scheduled six-game series, El Paso has outscored Las Vegas, 47-21. This includes a 12-2 win by the Chihuahuas on Thursday night.

The wheels came off in the fifth inning with the Aviators already into their bullpen.

The fifth frame opened with a single followed by a two-run home run to push the visitor’s lead to 6-0. El Paso would add another double before Las Vegas recorded the first out of the inning.

More runs would come across to score in the fifth via an RBI double and a second two-run homer, this time with two outs. By the end of the fifth inning, the Chihuahuas had extended their lead from 4-0 to 9-0.

The final runs of the game for El Paso came on a three-run home run with two outs in the sixth inning. Nine of the 12 runs scored in the game came with two outs recorded in the inning.

Reliever Zach Neal was on the mound when things went awry and was given the loss after his three-inning outing where he gave up eight runs on eight hits with five strikeouts. All three El Paso homers of the game came off Neal.

Starting pitcher Adrian Martinez went two-plus innings where he was taxed for four runs (one earned) on six hits with two strikeouts. He made his first Triple-A appearance since May 12 after starring in 11 games with the Oakland Athletics.

During that time in the Majors, Martinez went without a decision while posting a 5.70 ERA.

Las Vegas’ offense went cold for the vast majority of the game with the first real production coming in the bottom of the eighth inning. During that frame, Las Vegas had back-to-back batters reach for the first time in the game.

An RBI single from left fielder Trenton Brooks pushed across the first Aviator run of the night. Right fielder Cody Thomas extended his hit streak to 11 games with another RBI single, this time with two outs.

Through the first seven innings of the game, Las Vegas had four total baserunners on the way to eight total hits in the game. As a team, the Aviators went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position while leaving seven runners on-base.

In total, Las Vegas is 13-for-43 with runners in scoring position this series. Moreover, the team has struck out 37 times including 13 times for the second straight time on Thursday.

Friday, W, 10-4

Already facing a series split or outright loss, the Aviators were fueled by a six-run sixth inning to beat the Chihuahuas for the first time this season.

Las Vegas batted around in the sixth inning which featured four straight two-out hits including three extra-base hits for runs.

Right fielder Cody Thomas plated a run on an RBI triple to put the home team up two runs all while extending his hitting streak to 11 straight games. He also recorded an RBI sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first while going 1-for-4 on the night with a triple, two RBI, run scored and a strikeout.

The last three runs of the inning came via home run swings from both first baseman Dermis Garcia and catcher Kyle McCann. Garcia hit a two-run blast while McCann added a solo bomb.

Thomas, Garcia and McCann’s run-producing hits came with two outs recorded in the sixth inning. Garcia also added an RBI sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to remain perfect during his 3-for-3 night with two singles, a home run, three RBI, a run scored and a walk.

Shortstop Kevin Smith opened the scoring in the inning with a two-run single to give the Aviators a, 5-4, lead.

Center fielder Conner Capel put on his cape early in the game and did much of the heavy-lifting for Las Vegas. Capel drove in a run on a single in the bottom of the first before knocking in another run on a double in the fourth. Both of his hits gave the Aviators a lead at 1-0 and 3-2.

Capel went 4-for-5 with three singles, a double, two RBI and a run scored.

Starting pitcher Kyle Muller worked 5 ⅓ innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits to go along with a strikeout and three walks. Muller made his second start with the Aviators after 10 appearances with the Oakland Athletics.

Reliever Francisco Perez (1-1) picked up his first win of the season after pitching 1.2 innings of one-hit ball tallying two strikeouts. Though not a save opportunity, fellow reliever Rico Garcia struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning.

Saturday, W, 11-8

After being hitless through the first 12 at-bats, catcher Tyler Soderstrom hit two two-runs in back-to-back innings late in the game to secure an 11-8 win for Las Vegas over El Paso.

Soderstrom’s two swings helped secure a second straight win for the Aviators. The team will now have a chance to split the series tomorrow afternoon in the series finale.

With a runner on in the seventh inning, Soderstrom stepped into the batter’s box to face former Las Vegas pitcher Jared Koenig. Soderstrom took Koenig deep to give the Aviators their third lead of the game.

At that point, that marked the second home run of the game with shortstop Kevin Smith accounting for the first one with a leadoff home run in the sixth inning to put the team up, 7-5.

In the eighth inning, Soderstrom hit the third Las Vegas home run of the game by launching his second two-run shot over the fence.

Earlier in the game, the Aviators were netted a 3-1 lead after the bases were cleared on a three-run double by left fielder Trenton Brooks, who’d later score on an RBI single from first baseman Jordan Diaz.

Las Vegas lost several leads in this contest but a final seventh inning push from El Paso when the team hit three-fourths of the cycle with one out recorded in the frame. The hits came in a string of single, double and three-run home run to give the Chihuahuas their first lead since 1-0 in the top of the second.

En route to victory, first baseman Dermis Garcia made two great plays including a stab for a groundout as the final out with the bases loaded. At the time, the Aviators held a one-run lead.

Pitcher Colton Eastman went 4.2 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with a walk in his ninth start of the season. He is still winless on the year to go along with a 5.59 ERA.

Reliever Chase Cohen earned his first win of the year despite picking up his first blown save of the year. Fellow reliever Garrett Acton collected the save with a stat line full of zeros minus one walk in his lone inning on the mound.

Sunday, W, 7-6

Las Vegas gave up another lead but was bailed out on a walk-off hit by right fielder Cody Thomas to steal the series finale against El Paso and split the series at three apiece.

Prior to the finish, the Aviators were up on the scoreboard after scoring in four straight innings to take a 5-3 lead after trailing by two runs early.

Thomas singled home a run in the ninth inning on the heels of a fielder’s choice that tied the game to tie it at six apiece. In addition, the hit extended Thomas’ hit streak to 13 straight games.

In the eighth inning, Thomas was thrown out at the plate as the game’s tying run for the second out of the frame.

Las Vegas took over the game initially on the strength of its power swings as it scored runs in four straight innings with home runs coming in four of them.

Catcher Kyle McCann hit a pair of one-out solo home runs with the first serving as the team’s first hit in the bottom of the third inning. Two innings later he did the exact same thing in his second at-bat of the game for a 2-for-2 start with two dingers, two RBI and two runs scored.

Second baseman Zack Gelof also hit a home run in the win.

Former Las Vegas player Kevin Plawecki was a thorn in the side of his former franchise. By the end of the seventh inning, he was 3-for-3 with a single, double, home run, an RBI and a run scored.

Aviators manager Fran Riordan was tossed after arguing with home plate umpire Austin Jones on an eventual single that would come around to score on an RBI double. Shortly after, El Paso would regain the lead for the first time since leading 3-2 as late as the fifth inning.

Pitcher Aaron Wilkerson ran into trouble again in the third inning as Plawecki took him deep to start the frame. He’d later allow another run on a one-out RBI double followed by an RBI single on the way to a 3-0 deficit.

Wilkerson got the no-decision after pitching five innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts.

Reliever Rico Garcia (1-1) got his first win of the year two nights after shutting the door on the Chihuahuas for the first Aviator win of the series.

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