Express Score Early, Hang On to Defeat Vegas 8-5
ROUND ROCK, Texas - Matt Kata was 4-for-4 with three RBI, all of which came on a first-inning home run, as the Round Rock Express led wire-to-wire in an 8-5 victory over the Las Vegas 51s in Pacific Coast League action Tuesday night at The Dell Diamond. The Express (21-24) are guaranteed at least a split in their sixth consecutive series, moving to within three games of .500 for the first time since the season's seventh game April 14. The 51s (19-27) have lost 10 of their last 14.
Kata wasted little time extending his hitting streak to 13 games, the longest by an Express player this year. After a one-out double from Brian Bogusevic and a two-out walk from Chris Shelton, Kata drilled a 3-1 Brian Tallet offering off the foul pole down the left-field line. It was Kata's second round-tripper of the season and gave Round Rock a lead it never relinquished.
The hits continued in the second for the Express, who sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs on eight hits in the inning. Round Rock enjoyed a span of six consecutive hits, its best run of the season. Yordany Ramirez and Jason Bourgeois both had RBI doubles, and Brian Bogusevic followed with an RBI single. Chris Johnson capped the inning, blasting a 435-foot, two-run homer off the top of the grounds crew shed beyond the centerfield wall. It was Johnson's fourth homer in 14 games with the Express.
Meanwhile, Round Rock starter Josh Banks cruised for most of the game. Banks (5-3) worked the first five innings without allowing a run and scattering two hits. The 51s got to him in the sixth with two runs on Jarret Hoffpauir's RBI double and a run-scoring wild pitch. Banks finished the night with three runs allowed on six hits and three walks with four strikeouts over 8.0 innings, the longest outing by an Express pitcher this season.
Tallet (0-1) was roughed up in a rehab assignment and did not escape the second inning. He allowed eight runs on nine hits and a walk with one strikeout over 1.1 innings, using 61 pitches in that time. Lance Broadway tossed 4.2 innings scoreless innings, scattering seven hits with two strikeouts. Jesse Carlson worked 2.0 perfect innings with one strikeout.
Las Vegas' stellar bullpen work allowed the 51s to climb back into the game in the late innings. After getting to Banks for a run in the eighth, the 51s plated two runs on three hits and an Express error in the ninth.
Luis Figueroa's two-run double pulled Las Vegas to within three runs at 8-5 and brought the potential tying run to the plate in the form of Brett Wallace, the PCL's leading homerun hitter with 11. However, Casey Daigle entered the game and retired the next two batters, including a strikeout of Wallace, to record his sixth save of the season. It was the sixth consecutive save opportunity converted for Daigle, who has not allowed an earned run in 10 straight outings.
Kata's four-hit game was his 10th game this season with at least three hits and his second four-hit game, both team bests. Bogusevic was 3-for-5 with two runs scored, while Bourgeois, Ramirez and Drew Locke each had two hits. Round Rock finished the night with 16 hits, reaching double figures for the 12th consecutive game.
Hoffpauir and Aaron Matthews paced the Las Vegas offense with two hits apiece.
Round Rock and Las Vegas continue their four-game series Wednesday with a 7:05 p.m. CDT first pitch at The Dell Diamond. It will be dueling southpaws as the Express send Polin Trinidad (2-2, 4.79 ERA) to the mound opposite 51s' lefty Brad Mills (4-3, 3.60 ERA).
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