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Trip to Texas sees Aviators take on Space Cowboys

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Nearly a month into the season, the Las Vegas Aviators have their first series win of the season.

Las Vegas took four of six games on the road against the Sugar Land Space Cowboys this past week. Pitching played huge late in the series after offensive explosions through the first two games of the series.

This season, the Aviators are now 5-4 away from home this season. Overall, Las Vegas is 7-2 in its last nine games after starting the season 2-10.

Now, the Aviators will return home to Las Vegas Ballpark for a six-game series against the Tacoma Rainiers. That series is set to begin Tuesday, April 25.

Tuesday, W, 9-7

That makes it four straight wins for the Las Vegas Aviators after picking up another road win, this time to kick off a six-game series in Texas against the Sugar Land Space Cowboys.

Las Vegas beat Sugar Land, 9-7, Tuesday, April 18 from Constellation Field in the team’s first road game in two weeks. This victory came in come-from-behind fashion.

Sugar Land hit first with a seven-run second inning beginning with a two-run single after a two-on, one out situation to cut into the 3-0 lead for Las Vegas. Another walk and an RBI single tied the game at three apiece.

With the bases still loaded, one more run came across after a hit-by-pitch to give the Space Cowboys their first lead of the game at 4-3. The home team wasn’t done yet as it put three more runs on the board on a two-run single and RBI sacrifice fly.

While he finished the second inning, Aviators starter Drew Rucinski wouldn’t make it through the third in his second rehab start. He went 2.2 innings, allowing seven runs (five earned) on four hits with two strikeouts and three walks.

Catcher Tyler Soderstrom sparked the comeback trail for Las Vegas with a two-run home run with one out in the top of the fifth inning for his third blast of the year. He also drove in a run on a groundout in the game’s opening inning. He’d play an even bigger role later in the contest.

An inning later, shortstop Nick Allen went yard with an out in the frame to make it 7-6, Sugar Land.

The comeback trail was complete in the eighth inning when a leadoff single was threatened to be left stranded after a strikeout and pop out. The Aviators were the beneficiary of back-to-back walks to load the bases. Second baseman Zack Gelof plated Allen and right fielder Trenton Brooks on a two-run single to regain the lead at 8-7.

Soderstrom became the insurance run after he opened the ninth inning with a triple. Brooks would get him around on an RBI sac fly. Soderstrom finished a double shy of the cycle in five trips to the plate with a single, triple and home run three RBI, two runs scored and a strikeout.

Reliever Garrett Acton entered in the bottom of the sixth with one on and two out before striking out the potential threat at the plate on a 3-2 count. He’d also strike out two of the three batters in the next inning on the way to his first win of the season.

Fellow reliever Garrett Williams also picked up his first save of the year.

Wednesday, W, 10-5

A season-long five game win streak has Las Vegas up two games to none in a scheduled six-game series against Sugar Land following a 10-5 win Wednesday. This streak comes after the team opened the year with a 2-10 overall record.

The Aviators put up two separate three-run innings to go ahead and stay ahead of the Space Cowboys.

Another early start set Las Vegas up for a big game after left fielder Cody Thomas opened the day’s scoring with an RBI single with two outs in the first inning. To compound matters, first baseman Kevin Cron and right fielder Trenton Brooks added runs on an RBI single and RBI double respectively.

All outs were scored with two outs in the inning while being aided with two passed balls from Sugar Land catcher Korey Lee. Overall, Lee tallied four passed balls.

Cron would drive in another run in the third inning after Thomas tripled with one out to give Las Vegas a 4-3 lead. Thomas was everywhere on the day with an RBI single in the top of the fourth inning.

Thomas went 4-for-5 with three singles, a triple, two RBI and two runs scored. His batting average is now .348 through the first near month of the season.

Third baseman Jonah Bride had two big hits in the win with a two-run single in the third inning and leadoff home run in the seventh inning. Brooks also went deep in the sixth inning to drive in two with two outs.

Five of the team’s 10 runs were scored with two outs already recorded.

Starter Luis Medina gave up four runs (three earned) on three hits in three innings of work with four strikeouts and five walks.

Immediately after relieving Medina, pitcher Miguel Romero coughed up a run on a leadoff home run in the fourth inning.

Reliever Joseph Wieland (1-1) earned the win as he went two innings, yielding two hits while striking out four.

Thursday, L, 2-1

For the first time in this series, Las Vegas took a loss at the hands of Sugar Land by a final score of 2-1. This comes after a strong start on the mound from pitcher Colin Peluse.

First baseman Kevin Cron recorded the game’s first hit with one out in the top of the second inning after a swiftly played first inning.

Peluse allowed a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the frame but avoided danger with an inning-ending double play. Through two innings, he had faced the minimum. An inning later, he worked around another leadoff walk, leaving him stranded.

Things got a little hotter in the fourth inning when Peluse allowed a leadoff double and eventually dealt with a one-out situation with runners on the corner. Back-to-back strikeouts would end the inning with the last one coming with both runners in scoring position.

After working the fifth inning, Peluse left the game on the heels of retiring five straight Space Cowboy batters.

Las Vegas got strong performances out of the bullpen from pitchers Domingo Acevedo and Austin Pruitt. However, righty Billy Sullivan ran into a little trouble with back-to-back walks to start the bottom of the eighth. He got out of danger with a sacrifice bunt and strikeout.

Sullivan would leave the game after that but eventually be charged with two runs after reliever Garrett Williams gave up a two-run single after taking over the mound. That single flipped the scoreboard from 1-0 Aviators to 2-1 Space Cowboys.

With one final hope, Las Vegas’ chance in the ninth went up in flames as all three batters struck out, adding to the day’s woes. The Aviators struck out 12 times versus just three hits on the day.

Designated hitter Tyler Soderstrom was responsible for the lone run of the game with a leadoff home run to open the fifth inning. His effort was followed by three consecutive strikeouts.

Friday, W, 5-3

Las Vegas has guaranteed at least a series split with Sugar Land after a, 5-3, win on Friday night to improve to 8-11 on the year. The team is still in search of its first series win of the year.

It was a see-saw game that resulted in four lead changes including three in one and a half innings late in the contest.

The Space Cowboys led off the opening frame with a home run to take an early 1-0 lead. It took a little bit before the Aviators would respond with a home run of their own from third baseman Jonah Bride. That’s his second home run in the last three games.

Las Vegas took its first lead of the game in the seventh inning at 2-1 on an RBI single from catcher Kyle McCann that scored left fielder Trenton Brooks.

The lead didn’t last long as Sugar Land hit a one-out, two-run home run to put the home team back ahead by a run.

On this night designated hitter Dermis Garcia played hero with a two-run triple in the top of the eighth with two outs on the board. That marked the fourth lead change of the game and the third in an inning and a half.

The aforementioned McCann added an insurance run in the ninth with his first home run of the year. By the end of the game, he went 2-for-4 with a single, home run, two RBI, a run scored and two strikeouts.

Las Vegas’ victory was lifted by a strong team pitching performance. Starter Hogan Harris gave up a run on three hits in four innings of work with four strikeouts and a walk.

Reliever Garrett Acton (2-1) earned the win after working ⅔ of an inning, striking out two versus just one hit. Fellow reliever Rico Garcia struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his first save of the season.

Both teams combined for 15 hits but struck out 23 total times while leaving 13 men on base. In addition, they combined to go 4-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

Saturday, L, 5-1

The offense went cold for the second time this series tallying just three hits while being treated with relatively solid pitching from its staff.

In the top of the first inning, right fielder Cody Thomas scored the game’s opening run on an RBI single with two outs.

Starting pitcher Colton Eastman began the bottom of the first inning with a leadoff walk before retiring the runner as part of a double play. In fact, it took until the third inning with one out for Sugar Land to record its first hit of the game.

That lone hit remained through the first 3 ⅔ innings ahead of a two-out solo home run in the fourth inning. An inning later, two more runs would score on a fielder’s choice and RBI groundout.

Eastman went 4.1 innings, giving up three runs (one earned) on three hits, with four strikeouts and two walks.

With the score 3-1 in favor of the home team, a pair of solo home runs – one with one out and one with two outs – put Las Vegas down four runs.

Those runs were scored off reliever Aaron Wilkerson, who was making his first appearance as an Aviator.

After that early Thomas run, Las Vegas’ offense sputtered. In the top of the fourth inning, the team managed to get two runners on with one out but would have back-to-back strikeouts end the frame.

By the conclusion of the top of the seventh inning, the Aviators had their last nine batters retired in order. To make matters worse, the team’s last six were sat down in order to end the game.

Sunday, W, 4-3

Las Vegas has its first series win of the season.

This comes on the heels of a 4-3 Sunday win over Sugar Land to capture win number four of six on the road. The team was netted an early lead as Drew Rucinski bounced back from a rough second rehab start.

Center fielder J.J. Bleday put the Aviators ahead, 1-0, on a solo home run with one out in the top of the third inning. He now has four home runs on the year to go along with his ninth RBI while going 2-for-4 with a single, home run, an RBI, a run, a strikeout and a walk.

An inning later, Las Vegas opened the frame with a single and a walk. Those runs would come across to score on a two-run ground-rule double for a 3-0 lead.

The team’s final run came on a fielder’s choice during first baseman Tyler Soderstrom’s seventh inning at-bat.

Rucinski (1-1) controlled this game from the very beginning, coasting through five scoreless innings of work, yielding just two hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Through his first two rehab starts, he compiled 4.2 innings, giving up nine runs (seven earned) on 10 hits while striking out four, three walks and a hit-batter.

Relievers Domingo Acevedo, Garrett Acton and Joseph Wieland all picked up their second hold of the year while fellow reliever Billy Sullivan earned his first save of the season.


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