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Aviators finish high in opening series after flat start

Updated: May 12, 2021

After losing the first two games of a six-game series to open the year, the Las Vegas Aviators rattled off four straight wins over the Sacramento River Cats.

Avenging a playoff loss that dates back 19 months, Las Vegas overcame early deficits in four straight games to secure come-from-behind victories.

Infielder Jacob Wilson emerged as an early potential star for this year’s Aviators’ team with four home runs and nine RBI, both leading the team.

But nothing was more galvanizing than the thrilling extra-inning win on Saturday which began the pendulum swing of good fortune.

Thursday, L, 8-1

Offense was hard to come by in the Las Vegas Aviators season opening loss to the Sacramento River Cats, 8-1.

Coming in, Vegas held a 16-20 all-time record in season openers and was 19-17 all-time in home openers.

Prior to this loss, the team was 1-0 at Las Vegas Ballpark.

In the third inning, things began to unravel for the Aviators.

A ball hit to left field was misplayed by outfielder Luis Barrera, resulting in an inning-opening triple.

That runner would later score on an RBI single.

In that same inning, Barrera would be charged with an error that turned a single into a double.

It wasn’t all bad for Barrera as he recorded the team’s first hit in the fifth inning, his first Triple-A hit.

The team’s first run of the year came off the bat of center fielder Skye Bolt in the sixth inning.

Those two hits were half of all the Vegas hits on the night while Sacramento tallied 16.

Starting pitcher James Kaprielian went 4 ⅔ innings allowing eight hits but averting serious trouble allowing just one earned run.

He struck out five while walking one but induced two timely double plays despite being the losing pitcher.

The game took a turn for the worst when reliever Matt Blackham allowed two walks, a hit and an earned run in just ⅓ innings of work.

This game was the first game played for the Aviators in 605 days and was played in front of a limited capacity crowd of 5,002 fans.

Friday, L, 6-3

Starting pitcher Parker Dunshee had an issue with walks in his first start of the year and ended up walking right into trouble.

Dunshee went four innings, allowing six earned runs on just three hits while striking out five.

However, he did walk six batters. This includes the first two batters of the game.

During his outing, Dunshee walked the leadoff man, second man to the plate or both in every inning pitched.

After an intentional walk in the fourth inning, shortstop Thairo Estrada took Dunshee deep for a grand slam, taking the 6-3 lead.

On the other hand, most of the Las Vegas offense came in the first three innings.

Outfielder Luis Barrera got the scoring started in the first inning with a single and came around to score on two errors after stealing second base.

He added an RBI single in both the second and eighth innings respectively.

Third baseman Jacob Wilson smacked the team’s first home run of the year in the third inning, giving the team a one run lead at the time.

Saturday, W, 11-10 F/10

Heading into the ninth inning down four runs, the Las Vegas Aviators sent eight men to the plate tying the game at 10 heading into extras.

Looking to avoid a 0-3 start to the season, Vegas scored six unanswered runs to bounce back from a 10-5 deficit as late as the seventh inning.

After starting the 10th inning on second base, second baseman Edwin Diaz was driven in by outfielder Buddy Reed.

Third baseman Jacob Wilson got the Vegas scoring started with an RBI single in the first, followed by a two-run single from outfielder Skye Bolt two batters later.

Pitcher Grant Holmes avoids the loss as right-hander Ben Bracewell got the win in relief.

Holmes went three full allowing five runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and four walks on 86 pitches.

Bracewell ended the night going one inning, striking out two while walking one allowing no hits in the process.

Las Vegas native Drew Robinson of the River Cats recorded his first hit of the season after starting the year 0-for-9.

Robinson is making a return to professional baseball after losing his right eye.

His single in the third inning was met with a standing ovation from the Aviator crowd of more than 5,000 people.

Robinson added another highlight play when he laid out for a diving catch, making the last out of the sixth inning.

Sunday, W, 6-3

Vegas made it back-to-back come-from-behind wins with a 6-3 win in the team’s first day game of the season.

The Aviators trailed 3-1 after three innings despite scoring first.

Third baseman Jacob Wilson hit his second home run of the year in the fourth inning.

Two innings later, Vegas scored four runs in the sixth marking the second time that’s happened in the last eight innings.

Pitcher James Naile got the win in relief going two perfect innings, striking out two.

Reliever Domingo Acevedo was credited with the save after two innings, working his way around two hits surrendered, striking out three in the process.

Starter Paul Blackburn was given the no-decision after five innings of work, allowing three runs on five.

He walked three and struck out four.

Monday, W, 9-6

Las Vegas scored at least two runs in three different innings, on the way to its third straight win over Sacramento.

The Aviators sent seven batters to the plate in the fourth inning, scratching four runs across the plate, all were unearned following errors.

Two innings later, the team would send eight to the plate adding three more runs to the mix.

Third baseman Jacob Wilson led the way going 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and four RBI.

He now has seven RBI on the season and has hit safely in four straight games.

Vegas relievers pitched four consecutive shutout innings before allowing two runs in the ninth before closing the door for good.

Shortstop Chad Pinder (knee) made his first start with the Aviators this season as part of his rehab assignment from the Oakland Athletics.

He went 0-for-4 with a run scored before being replaced in the eighth inning by infielder Edwin Diaz.

In the first inning, Pinder drifted into shallow left field and made an over-the-shoulder catch for the out, a good sign for Oakland brass.

Tuesday, W, 10-7

In the series finale, Las Vegas scored nine unanswered runs to win it’s fourth straight game after starting the season 0-2.

After starter Matt Milburn was tagged for five straight hits in the second inning, four of them being home runs, the Aviators mounted a comeback.

Milburn was given the start after pitcher James Kaprielian was scratched after being called up to the Oakland A’s roster.

Down 6-1 to start the bottom of the third inning, Vegas scored five runs after the first five batters reached base.

This was headlined by a two-run home run by infielder Jacob Wilson. He now leads the team with four home runs and nine RBI.

Infielder Edwin Diaz got his first hit of the year after starting 0-for-15 with seven strikeouts. The hit came in the form of a three-run home run on an 0-2 count in the fifth inning.

Outfielder Skye Bolt added an insurance home run in the seventh inning.

Still on a rehab assignment, shortstop Chad Pinder found his form going 3-for-4 with a first-inning home run, an RBI, two runs scored and a walk.

Pitcher A.J. Puk made his return to the Aviators via a rehab assignment from Oakland, pitching around two hits to strike out the side in the fifth inning.

In addition, reliever Miguel Romero made his first appearance of the season getting the hold in an inning pitched with a strikeout and a walk.

Editor’s Note: The Aviators wore their Reyes de Plata uniforms during the series finale marking the first time the team has worn the uniform this season.


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