Newly acquired first-place spot up for grabs as Aviators return home
Updated: May 15, 2022
Another series has come and gone and the Las Vegas Aviators are still without a series loss six series into the new year.
First place in the Pacific Coast League West was up for grabs as the Aviators hosted the Salt Lake Bees this past week from Las Vegas Ballpark.
After splitting six games with Salt Lake, Las Vegas reclaims first place in the division with a 20-16 overall record.
Moreover, these two teams have split all 12 games they’ve played so far this season despite the Aviators being outscored 77-55 along the way.
The Las Vegas franchise holds the all-time advantage in the series, 218-216.
Now, the team will head to the road for a season-long 12-game road trip.
It begins with a six-game series against the Reno Aces Tuesday, May 17 from Greater Nevada Field.
Tuesday, L, 11-2
There’s a tie at the top of the PCL West Division after Salt Lake took the series opener away from Las Vegas by a final score of 11-2
A four-run first inning set the tone for the Bees facing Aviators starter Brian Howard.
Howard served up a three-run home run as part of that four-run first inning. That was one of the two home runs given up on the night by Las Vegas pitching.
The second of two errors in the game came in the third inning for the Aviators and resulted in the second unearned run of the night.
Third baseman Vimael Machín had a throwing error in the first while Howard claimed the error in the third inning.
Howard was lifted from the game in the third inning and left with a final stat line of eight runs allowed (six earned) on eight hits with three strikeouts and two walks in three-plus innings of work.
Salt Lake batted around in that fourth inning as well, adding four more runs to its total.
Las Vegas trailed by as much as 10 runs.
In addition, the Bees were not retired in order until the sixth inning. On the other hand, the Aviators turned in three 1-2-3-innings.
At one point, the home team had nine straight hitters turned away.
Moreover, Las Vegas had only one hit through the first 6 ⅔ innings of the game. The team did score its first runs of the game in the seventh inning.
Center fielder Drew Jackson accounted for all the team’s runs when he drove in two on an RBI double amidst a 1-for-4 night.
Shortstop Nick Allen, catcher Shea Langeliers, second baseman Nate Mondou and left fielder Vince Fernandez each recorded a hit apiece as well.
Wednesday, L, 10-3
First place in the PCL West belongs solely to Salt Lake following a 10-3 loss by Las Vegas Wednesday night.
Over the last three games against the Bees, the Aviators have been outscored, 33-8.
By the end of the fourth inning of this one, Las Vegas found itself down seven runs.
It started early when Salt Lake right fielder Jo Adell went yard in the first inning for a 1-0 start for the road team.
However, things got much worse in the fourth inning where the Bees would tack on four more runs.
It marked the third four-run inning through the first 13 innings of the series.
Starting pitcher Parker Dunshee would be done after the fourth, leaving with a final line of seven runs allowed on five hits, tallying a strikeout to three walks.
Dunshee was named the PCL Pitcher of the Week after allowing just one hit in six innings of work against Sacramento.
He is 1-2 this year and is still without a Triple-A home win in his Las Vegas career.
One night after being held to one hit through 6 ⅔ innings, the Aviators were no-hit for almost two-thirds of the contest.
The team’s first hit came in the sixth inning when shortstop Drew Jackson singled to open the frame.
Jackson accounted for both RBIs in last night’s 11-2 loss to the Bees.
He went 1-for-3 on the night with a single, hit-by-pitch and two strikeouts.
Designated hitter Matt Davidson recorded his first RBI for Las Vegas, driving in Jackson on an RBI single three batters later.
Davidson was acquired through free agency after being designated for assignment by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He went 1-for-4 with an RBI single, groundout and two strikeouts.
Left fielder Dalton Kelly drove in the game’s final run in the ninth inning, cutting the deficit back to seven.
Right fielder Christian Lopes flew out with the bases loaded to end the game.
Thursday, W, 7-6
In an attempt to avoid falling back two games out of first place in the PCL West, Las Vegas got its first win of the series, beating Salt Lake 7-6.
Now, both teams are back tied for first with respective 18-15 records.
Two big innings set the tone for the Aviators’ win with the first of two coming in the bottom of the second.
Back-to-back singles opened the inning before the team was able to load the bases with one out.
Left fielder Dalton Kelly stepped to the plate and cleared all the bases with one swing, recording a grand slam for his third home run of the season.
The remaining three runs were scored in the bottom of the sixth inning, beginning with a leadoff double from designated hitter Dermis Garcia.
He would score on an RBI double from second baseman Nate Mondou. That was followed by an RBI single from right fielder Christian Lopes.
Both hits came with no one out in the inning.
The final Las Vegas run on the night was scored when center fielder Vince Fernandez came across on a wild pitch.
Salt Lake center fielder Dillon Thomas was a major thorn in the side for Las Vegas pitching all night long.
Thomas hit a leadoff home run in the top of the fourth inning to make it 4-1 in favor of the Aviators. A sacrifice fly later in the inning cut the deficit to two.
An inning later, Thomas hit his second home run of the night, this time a two-run shot to tie the game at four apiece.
The Bees had to get creative to scratch across runs as a double steal brought left fielder Jo Adell across to score. Thomas stole second in the play.
Finally, with one more chance to make some noise, Thomas hit an RBI single to cut the deficit to one.
Reliever Domingo Tapia was removed from the ninth inning after opening the frame by hitting a batter and then giving up a double.
Fellow reliever Aaron Brown came in and shut the door to get out with his first save of the year.
Starting pitcher Collin Wiles (3-2) got the win after going six strong innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and a walk.
It’s his first win in the month of May after posting two wins in April.
Friday, W, 5-2
Starting pitcher Jared Koenig pitched a beaut of a game en route to a 5-2 Las Vegas win that tied the series through the first four games.
Koenig only needed eight pitches to get through the first inning, this included seven fastballs.
He sat down the first eight batters in order, striking out five during that stretch. Moreover, he had seven strikeouts through the first five innings, tallying 64 pitches along the way.
Koenig finished with 10 strikeouts, marking his second straight start with double-digit strikeouts. In addition, he did this without walking anyone.
He went eight full innings, giving up one run on three hits, throwing 99 pitches, 72 of which were strikes.
The lone run he gave up for a solo home run in the seventh inning.
Center fielder Skye Bolt played his first game in Las Vegas since August of last year as part of his major league rehab assignment.
He reached base in all four of his trips to the plate, drawing two walks in the process.
Bolt scored the game’s opening run after being driven in on an RBI single from third baseman Matt Davidson.
Before that point, Davidson was 1-for-11 since joining the Aviators.
Bolt also drove in a run, when his RBI double drove in right fielder Drew Jackson to make it 2-0 in favor of Las Vegas.
He would later score in his second run of the game when designated hitter Shea Langeliers grounded out later in the frame.
A much-needed two insurance runs came in the bottom of the eighth, starting with an RBI single from defensive replacement Christian Lopes, scoring catcher Austin Allen.
The final run came in the form of an RBI double from shortstop Nick Allen, who drove in left fielder Dalton Kelly
Nick Allen has now hit safely in 16 of the 21 games he’s played.
Saturday, L, 11-3
First place in the PCL West is going to come down to a Sunday matinee series finale as Las Vegas dropped a chance to guarantee at least a split in this six-game series.
Salt Lake beat Las Vegas, 11-3, Saturday night in front of the fourth sellout of the year at Las Vegas Ballpark.
Prior to this game, these two teams had played 10 times but the Bees have the margin in scoring by +23 runs.
An expected bullpen game turned into just that for the Aviators as they started reliever Aaron Brown just two days after he got his first save of the year.
Brown was done after two innings, giving up one run on two hits recording a strikeout to no walks.
Trouble came in the fourth inning when relief pitcher Ryan Castellani threw seven straight balls at one point.
After a double led off the inning, Castellani hit a batter and then walked one to load the bases with no one out.
Shortly after, he would walk the batter, scoring a run in the process. Not long after that, manager Fran Riordan lifted him from the contest. He was still saddled with the loss for the first time this season.
However, it was just the beginning as Salt Lake scored seven runs on four hits to that point including six runs in that fourth inning.
In addition, Las Vegas had tallied three hit batters and three walks to that point. All walks and two hit batters came in the fourth inning.
Riordan was actually tossed in the fifth inning after arguing whether catcher Colby Fitch was hit by a pitch for a second time, this time scoring a run along the way.
Fitch would be hit by a pitch for a third time in the seventh inning.
Through five games this series, Aviators pitching has hit 10 batters with four of which coming from Castellani.
The team’s offense did come from some players that have struggled this series.
Third baseman Vimael Machín was 2-for-2 with a walk through his first three trips to the plate before striking out and flying out in his final two at-bats.
Machín was 1-for-9 through the first four games of this series.
HIs second hit drove in a run in the bottom of the third inning, scoring shortstop Nick Allen to tie the game at one apiece.
Allen was actually responsible for both runs as an RBI double from catcher Shea Langeliers scored him in the fifth.
Langeliers went 1-for-4 with that RBI double, two flyouts and a strikeout.
Coming into this game, Langeliers had been held to 3-for-15 in this series with no extra-base hits.
Sunday, W, 12-7
Six series into the new year and the Aviators have still not lost one.
This came after the team needed to bat around in two separate innings before coming away with a 12-7 win over the Bees in the series finale from Las Vegas Ballpark.
Las Vegas is 6-2 in day games this year.
The heroics came in the seventh inning after the first two Aviator hitters reached on a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
There were more than 20 hit batters in this series.
Both runners eventually came around to score, the first scored on an RBI double from first baseman Dermis Garcia.
He also helped produce more fireworks when he hit a two-run home run in the third inning as part of a six-run frame for the home team.
Garcia had a day, going 3-for-5 with a single, double, home run, three RBIs and three runs scored. He did strike out twice.
Center fielder Billy McKinney drove in two more runs in the seventh on a single, recording his first RBIs in his first game with Las Vegas.
He also scored Garcia again on an RBI double in the eighth inning to put the home team up 12-7 for good.
McKinney went 2-for-5 with a single, double, three RBIs, a run scored and a strikeout.
In addition to the seventh inning, the Aviators also batted around in the third inning where Garcia hit his two-run blast.
Right fielder Skye Bolt also homered in that third inning to give Las Vegas a 3-2 lead at the time.
Since coming down to Triple-A on a major league rehab assignment, Bolt has hit .571 with a home run, four RBIs, three runs scored and eight total bases in two games.
Resiliency was the name of the game for both teams early on as Salt Lake raced out to a 2-0 lead through the first two and a half innings.
However, that four-spot in the third gave Las Vegas some insurance runs.
All were needed as the Bees kept coming forward.
Starting pitcher Adrian Martinez couldn’t quite get to five full innings, pitching 4 ⅓ innings, giving up four runs on three hits with seven strikeouts and two walks on 86 pitches.
Martinez allowed a walk and eventual stolen base to come around to score the game’s first run.
An inning later, Salt Lake left fielder Jo Adell hit his fourth home run of the series off him for a 2-0 start for the road team.
Relief pitcher Jacob Lemoine loaded the bases in the fifth on a walk before walking in a run. A sacrifice fly would score another to come within two runs.
And after trailing by as much as four runs, Salt Lake battled back to tie the game at six in the seventh inning behind two runs scoring on an RBI double from center fielder Magneuris Sierra.
Reliever Norge Ruiz was given the win despite giving up two runs on two hits in his one inning of work. He also walked one while failing to record a strikeout.