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Las Vegas gains ground in PCL after series with league-leading Sugar Land

Updated: Jun 19

The most impressive showings for the Las Vegas Aviators came in the latter part of their series of the league-leading Sugar Land Space Cowboys.

After winning the series opener, Las Vegas took the final three for a total of four wins of a possible six against Sugar Land. As a result, the team claims its first series win over the team that currently leads the Pacific Coast League.

Through 12 head-to-head games this season, the two clubs have split the meetings.

At the start of the series, the Aviators trailed the Space Cowboys by eight games. Now, the team is six games back of the top slot.

Las Vegas will now look toward El Paso for a six-game series from Las Vegas Ballpark. That series is scheduled to begin Tuesday, June 4 with first pitch loosely set for 5:35 p.m.

Tuesday, W, 9-5

Las Vegas picked up only its second Tuesday win of the season as it captured the series opener against Sugar Land.

Second baseman Hoy Park had a night that has only happened one time prior to Tuesday for Aviator batters.

With two-on and nobody out, Park plated two runs on a single to open the day’s scoring in the second inning. Two innings later, he added another RBI to his ledger on his second single of the day. To that point, he had his second three-RBI game of the year.

Park followed it up with a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to tally Las Vegas’ second five-RBI game of the season for an Aviator. He went 3-for-4 with three singles, five RBI and a run scored.

During the fourth inning when Park notched his lone RBI single, Las Vegas has a team put up its biggest inning of the game. The team put forth five straight hits as six straight men reached in an inning where the home team batted around.

Starter Luis Medina made his second rehab start and had an up-and-down outing. He hit a batter to open the top of the second. The runner would advance on a passed ball before being caught stealing going for third.

Medina didn’t allow his first hit until he served up a single with nobody out in the third inning. Soon after, the bases would be loaded with nobody out. The 25-year old from the Dominican Republic induced a strikeout, flyout, strikeout to avoid damage.

By then, Medina had already surpassed his first rehab outing of 2 ⅓ innings of work. In this one, he’d go 3.2 innings on the mound with two runs allowed on four hits with six strikeouts and two walks. The runs he gave up came on a two-run homer in the fourth inning.

Reliever Vinny Nittoli struck out the side in the fifth inning and would eventually go on to get his second win of the season. He hurled a hitless 1 ⅓ innings with those three strikeouts.

Wednesday, L, 20-7

Las Vegas blew a six-run lead en route to a blowout loss in the second of a scheduled six games from Las Vegas Ballpark.

It only took the Aviators three innings to build their six-run lead beginning with a three-run triple from designated hitter Quincy Nieporte in his second Triple-A game. An inning later, third baseman Brett Harris and shortstop Nick Allen plated runs on a double and a sacrifice fly.

Center fielder Lazaro Armenteros was responsible for the sixth and final run scored by the home team prior to Sugar Land’s first run scored.

The wheels began to come off in the fourth inning when the first six reached (three by walks) for the Space Cowboys. All six of those runs would score as part of a seven-run fourth inning for the visitors. It was a grand slam that ultimately shifted the game’s trajectory beginning with the score.

Left fielder Lawrence Butler tied the game at seven apiece with a solo home run in the bottom half of the fourth. That would serve as the final Las Vegas run of the night.

Sugar Land broke the tie for good with a two-run homer with one out recorded in the fifth inning. Trouble kept rising for the Aviators as the Space Cowboys added eight more runs in the seventh inning.

Opposing batter Trey Cabbage launched two of the six home runs hit by the visitors during the win. He went 3-for-6 with a double, two homers, eight RBI, three runs scored with two strikeouts and a walk.

Aviator pitching allowed 15 walks on the night with seven of them coming across to score. Reliever Freddy Tarnok dropped to 0-2 after being given the loss.

Pitcher Joe Boyle made his second rehab start after giving up a hit in 2 ⅓ innings of work with three strikeouts and two walks.

Thursday, L, 10-9

Lost opportunities late in the game landed Las Vegas in a second straight loss to a PCL-leading Sugar Land team.

Third baseman Drew Lugbauer grounded out with the bases loaded to end the game. Prior to that, the team had two-on with one out.

In the inning prior, the Aviators had a similar situation with two-on and one out but a strikeout and groundout ended the scoring chance. Earlier in the game, back-to-back strikeouts ended another two-on, one out scenario.

By the end of the game, Las Vegas went 5-for-16 with runners in scoring position ultimately leaving 14 runners on base.

Even with the loss, the Aviators held another lead in this one again scoring in the two innings. Designated hitter Quincy Nieporte opened the day’s scoring for the home team with a two-run single tying the game at a run apiece. That would be followed up with an RBI single by second baseman Armando Alvarez.

The lead was stretched when first baseman Ryan Noda blasted a solo home run with one out. Three batters later, catcher Yohel Pozo hit a two-run shot as part of his big night.

Pozo went 4-for-6 with three singles, a homer, two RBI and three runs scored.

Alvarez would show up again in the sixth inning when his third hit of the game drove in two on a double. As a team, Las Vegas tallied a season-high 16 hits in the loss.

Starting pitcher Royber Salinas gave up a leadoff homer to start the game but that would serve as the only run he’d allow while on the mound. His walks would eventually come across to score as part of his 2.1 inning outing with four runs surrendered on three hits to go along with four strikeouts and five walks.

The Space Cowboys used those Salinas’ walks to pump out nine runs in the third inning on just four hits while sending 14 to the plate.

Las Vegas made two pitching changes in a third inning that lasted more than an hour. Reliever Austin Briggs was given the loss and now has a two-game stat line of 11 runs allowed (six earned), six hits, a strikeout and five walks over one inning of work.

Friday, W, 7-6 F/10

The Aviators scored the final three runs of the game on the way to a wild walk-off win over the Space Cowboys Friday night.

Though the game needed an extra inning, Las Vegas’ strategic move to pinch run outfielder Lazaro Armenteros. That set the table for left fielder Hoy Park’s game-winning RBI single with one out recorded.

Park now has six RBI in the series.

In the ninth inning, shortstop Nick Allen and right fielder Ryan Noda tallied back-to-back hits to tie the game at six-all. Allen singled just before Noda could lift the equalizing two-run homer.

Noda hit two homers in the game including going back-to-back with Yohel Pozo in the third inning. Both players combined to go 5-for-10 with two singles, three home runs, five RBI, three runs scored and three strikeouts.

Starting pitcher Robert Dugger allowed just one hit after the first inning, where Sugar Land took a 2-0 lead on a two-out triple and two-run dinger. He completed four innings with two runs allowed on five hits coupled with five strikeouts and two walks.

Las Vegas relievers had a 4-3 lead heading into the eighth inning but back-to-back walks along with an RBI single off reliever Zach Jackson. The Space Cowboys would take the lead on a two-run homer moments later, giving the visitors their first lead since the third inning.

Reliever Corey Avant, who was the seventh pitcher used by the Aviators got his first Triple-A win in his third outing for the club this season.

Saturday, W, 13-7

A Saturday night win gave Las Vegas consecutive wins over Sugar Land for the first time this season. As a result, the team is now back to .500 in the standings and will now at least get a split in this series.

The Aviators fell behind 1-0 but would quickly respond in the bottom of the first when center fielder Lawrence Butler tied the game when he scored on a wild pitch.

Catcher Carlos Perez gave the team its first lead on an RBI single followed by a third baseman Armando Alvarez plated another on an RBI double. That tandem went 6-for-10 with three singles, three doubles, six RBI, two runs scored and two strikeouts from the fifth and sixth spots in the lineup.

Las Vegas added four more runs in the second and three in the third to build a 10-1 lead over its opponent. Sugar Land lifted its starting pitcher about midway through the second inning.

In addition, the home crowd was treated to two home team homers with both coming in the sixth inning. Those roundtrippers came off the bats of second baseman Hoy Park and right fielder Tyler Nevin.

Park now has seven RBI through the first five games of this series.

Pitcher Brandon Bielak had one bad inning during his four-inning outing. He gave up a run on four hits with four strikeouts and a walk with that run coming in the game’s first inning. The Space Cowboys chopped the deficit down to five with a four-run fifth inning but it wouldn’t be enough to start a comeback effort.

Righty Vinny Nittoli picked up his third win of the year out of the bullpen.

Sunday, W, 7-6 F/10

It was the second extra inning game of the series but Las Vegas secured the victory Sunday to claim the series over Sugar Land. Moreover, the outcome lands the team its third straight win.

The Aviators needed to come-from-behind to claim the win in this one starting with an RBI single from designated hitter Jordan Diaz in the ninth inning to tie the game at 6-6. That swing came with two outs recorded in the frame.

An inning later, shortstop Nick Allen smacked another RBI single with two outs to give the home team the win. Six of the seven team runs for Las Vegas came with two outs recorded.

Allen and catcher Carlos Perez were the only two to tally two hits each on the night. The latter got his day started with a three-run home run in the first inning. That was followed by a solo shot from third baseman Armando Alvarez in back-to-back fashion.

A one-out RBI double from first baseman Ryan Noda pushed the lead to 5-1 for the Aviators.

Sugar Land got back into the game on the heels of two-run homers in the fourth and sixth innings to tie the game at five apiece. In the seventh inning, the team took the lead behind a solo home run.

All of those longballs came with two outs recorded in the respective frame.

Pitcher Osvaldo Bido made a four-inning start and gave up three runs on three hits while compiling six strikeouts. Reliever Michel Otanez got the win to improve to 3-0 after working 2 ⅓ innings of perfect ball with three strikeouts recorded.


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