Aviators Stumble Once again against Oklahoma City, Lose 13-4
A month ago, the Aviators started their 12-game road trip in Oklahoma City and showed no mercy against the Dodgers, winning five of six games. It appears none of the Dodgers' players suffer from short-term memory loss, because they arrived in Las Vegas this week determined to exact some revenge - and so far, they've done precisely that.
One night after thumping the Aviators 12-5 in the opener of a five-game series, Oklahoma City returned to Las Vegas Ballpark on Friday, overcame an early deficit and cruised to a 13-4 victory before a Fireworks Night crowd of 8,077.
The Dodgers, who are off to a 2-0 start in the 10-game Triple-A Final Stretch, did the bulk of their damage in two innings, scoring six runs in the fourth and six more in the ninth. After rapping out 16 hits Thursday - including four doubles, a triple and three home runs - Oklahoma City collected 15 hits Friday. This time, the extra base-hit tally included two doubles, two triples and left fielder Omar Estevez's fourth-inning grand slam.
Las Vegas' offense was essentially a two-man production, as shortstop Nick Allen (3-for-5, two doubles, run, RBI) and right fielder Luis Barrera (3-for-4, RBI) delivered six of the team's nine hits. The three-hit game by Allen was his second in as many nights, as the 22-year-old continues to show why he's regarded as one of the top prospects in the Oakland A's minor-league system.
After beginning his Triple-A a career with a slump that spanned an entire month, Allen is now riding a nine-game hitting streak. He's hitting .389 (14-for-36) during the streak with seven runs, five RBI, five walks and four doubles. As a result of this torrid stretch, Allen - who was batting .157 with the Aviators as recently as September 12 - has lifted his average to .227.
On Friday, Allen helped stake the Aviators to a 2-0 lead when he followed catcher Collin Theroux's third-inning RBI single with an RBI double. After the Dodgers answered with six runs in the fourth and one in the sixth to take a 7-2 lead, Allen again jump-started the Aviators' struggling offense with a double leading off the bottom of the sixth. He came around to score two outs later on Barrera's single to right.
Las Vegas crept a little closer in the eighth inning when shortstop Pete Kozma drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk to cut Oklahoma City's lead to 7-4. That brought Schuemann to the plate as the potential go-ahead run. However, he hit a dribbler to the pitcher and was thrown at first by a half-step to end the threat.
Any hopes the Aviators had of mounting a ninth-inning comeback were quickly erased when the Dodgers sent 11 batters to the plate and produced their second six-run inning of the night. That effectively sealed Las Vegas' 13th loss in its last 17 games.
GAME NOTES: Barrera is 5-for-8 in the series with four singles and an inside-the-park home run. ... Aviators outfielder Mickey McDonald (0-for-3, walk, sacrifice) had his five-game hitting streak snapped. ... Las Vegas starting pitcher Homer Bailey, who had surrendered 15 runs in eight innings in his previous two starts, had another rough night. The veteran right-hander yielded five runs on five hits and four walks in three innings. ... The Aviators committed two errors and their pitchers hit four batters, with Oklahoma City right fielder Zach Reks getting plunked twice in the fourth inning. ... Dodgers third baseman Cristian Santana went 5-for-6 with a run and three RBI. ... Home plate umpire Lewis Williams III had a busy night, ejecting three Dodgers (second baseman and former Aviator Sheldon Neuse, shortstop Zach McKinstry and manager Travis Babary), as well as Las Vegas manager Fran Riordan. ... The Aviators have now scored six runs or fewer in 24 of its last 25 games, including the last 22 in a row.
AND THE WINNERS ARE ... Prior to Friday's game, the Aviators announced their end-of-season award winners. Not surprisingly, catcher/first baseman/left fielder Carlos Pèrez took home Most Valuable Player honors (voted on by the team's coaches) and the Mayor's Trophy (voted on by the fans). Reliever Ben Bracewell was named Most Valuable Pitcher.
Pèrez entered Friday's game leading Triple-A West in home runs (30) and RBI (85), while also ranking in the top five in total bases (206, 3rd); extra-base hits (49, 4th); and slugging percentage (.574, 5th). Pèrez, who also has 18 doubles and a .267 batting average, was twice named Triple-A West Player of the Week in the span of two weeks (August 16-22 and August 30-September 5). Primarily a catcher and designated hitter, Pèrez showed his versatility during the second half of the season, when he spent most of his time playing left field and first base.
ON DECK: The Aviators and Dodgers return to Las Vegas Ballpark at 7:05 p.m. Saturday for Game 3 of the Triple-A Final Stretch. Hard-throwing southpaw A.J. Puk (2-6, 6.04 ERA) is scheduled to get the start for Las Vegas, while Oklahoma City will counter with right-hander Mitch White (1-0, 1.93).
The first 2,000 fans through the gates will receive an Aviators fleece blanket. To purchase tickets, visit the team's ticketing page.
Catch every Aviators game throughout the season on Raider Nation Radio 920-AM, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @AviatorsLV. Follow Aviators beat writer Matt Jacob on Twitter @MattRJacob.
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