Aviators Cap Homestand in Style, Rout River Cats 15-6
The Aviators took the field for Monday's series finale against the Sacramento River Cats with two objectives in mind: Put an end to a three-game losing skid and delay an overnight bus ride to Fresno for as long as possible.
Missions accomplished - emphatically!
Before a sellout crowd of 8,914 on Pride Night at Las Vegas Ballpark, the Aviators scored runs in each of the first six innings on their way to a dominating 15-6 victory. The triumph followed three straight difficult losses in which Las Vegas (42-35) suffered a 10-inning setback Friday, followed by consecutive 4-3 defeats over the weekend.
With a late-night bus trip to Fresno looming, the Aviators made sure this one would be void of any late-inning drama - although it took a little while to put things completely out of reach. After taking early leads of 1-0 and 3-1, Las Vegas actually entered the bottom of the third inning down 4-3 after Sacramento's Zach Green cracked his 15th homer (a three-run shot) in top of the frame.
It would be the final lead the River Cats (39-37) would enjoy, as the Aviators exploded for their final 12 runs over the ensuing four innings. Just how thorough and widespread was the offensive onslaught? Every single Las Vegas player contributed in meaningful ways, to the point that it would be nearly impossible to name a Player of the Game - unless you counted the scoreboard operator as a player.
Among the impressive stats the Aviators compiled Monday:
- Not only did they score at least one run in each of the first six innings, they also had 12 extra-base hits (10 doubles, two home runs) over that span.
- Except for leadoff hitter Nick Martini, every player in the lineup had at least one hit by the end of fourth inning. Martini finally joined the party with an RBI single in the fifth.
- Seven of the nine players in the lineup had at least two hits before the end of sixth inning, led by Franklin Barreto and Corban Joseph, who each had three hits, including two doubles apiece. Seth Brown also had a pair of doubles.
- With the exception of Brown and Skye Bolt, ever player had at least one RBI through six innings.
- The last two hitters in the lineup - Dustin Fowler and Joseph - reached base safely in each of their first four plate appearances, going a combined 5-for-5 with seven runs scored, six RBI, three walks, three doubles and a home run.
- In the sixth inning alone, the Aviators sent nine men to the plate and scored five times. The first five hitters (Fowler, Joseph, Martini, Barreto and Jorge Mateo) reached base safely and scored against Sacramento relief pitcher Sam Coonrad, who didn't record a single out.
- By the end of the seventh, only Martini didn't have at least two hits. Once again, the outfielder made sure to join the club with his second single in the eighth.
Taking full advantage of the run support was Las Vegas starting pitcher Tyler Alexander, who picked up his fourth consecutive victory. Although not as sharp as he was in his previous three outings when he yielded just four runs (one earned) over 17 innings, Alexander (5-3) was still plenty good enough.
Yes, the southpaw surrendered five runs on five hits (including three home runs) and two walks in five innings. But of the 15 outs he recorded, nine came via the strikeout (tying a season high). During his four-game winning streak, Alexander has posted an outstanding 29-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio while lowering his season ERA from 6.85 to 5.45.
Relievers Ryan Dull and Ben Bracewell took over for Alexander and completely stifled the River Cats, surrendering just one run (Chis Shaw's eighth-inning solo homer) on two hits and one walk over the game's final four innings.
After Bracewell ended the game (and the series) by striking out Sacramento's Abital Avelino, the Aviators shook hands, headed for the clubhouse, packed up and filed onto their busses. If ever there was such a thing as an enjoyable overnight bus trip to Fresno, surely the Aviators experienced it.
GAME NOTES: The two teams combined for 21 runs and 27 hits Monday, including nine doubles and six home runs. Overall, the Aviators and River Cats tallied 75 runs during their five-game series. ... With his 3-for-4 effort, Joseph extended his hitting streak to nine, during which he's 18-for-34 (.529). The veteran infielder is now batting .379, which leads the PCL. ... Mateo singled and doubled in six at-bats to stretch his hitting streak to 10 games. The fleet-footed shortstop now has four separate hitting streaks of at least 10 games. For the season, he's hit safely in 62 of the 71 games in which he's had at least one at-bat, including 23 of 25 since May 27. ... After seeing his nine-game hitting streak snapped by going 0-for-4 Sunday, Sheldon Neuse went 2-for-5, scored twice and drove in two on his 12th homer of the season. Over the past 11 games, the third baseman is 26-for-47 (.553) with four homers, 13 RBI and 13 runs ... Monday was the 16th and final game between Las Vegas and Sacramento, with the Aviators winning the season series 11-5.
ON DECK: The Aviators' Paul Blackburn (6-1, 5.40 ERA) will try for his team-leading seventh victory when he takes the ball in Tuesday's series opener against Fresno's Logan Ondrusek (2-2, 7.30) in a battle of right-handers. Las Vegas and Fresno have split their 12 meetings this season, with the Aviators going 4-4 at home and 2-2 on the road.
Las Vegas' scheduled starters for the remainder of the series are Parker Dunshee (2-4, 5.80) on Wednesday, Jesús Luzardo (0-0, 5.40) on Thursday and Jake Buchanan (3-5, 5.72) on Friday. First pitch for all four games is 7:05 p.m.
The Aviators return to Las Vegas Ballpark on Saturday, when they welcome the instate-rival Reno Aces for a five-game series that runs through July 3.
Catch every Aviators game throughout the season on NBC Sports Radio 920-AM, and follow us on Twitter @AviatorsLV.
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