First-inning homers spark series-clinching win over Aviators
SUMMERLIN, Nev. - Shortstop Abiatal Avelino led off the ballgame with a home run for the second time in three days. It set the tone for the first inning, as well as the rest of the game as the Sacramento River Cats defeated the Las Vegas Aviators 7-3 to win the series and advance to the Pacific Coast League Championship.
Following Avelino's solo shot, Joe McCarthy and Zach Houchins would go back to back to give Caleb Baragar a four-run cushion before even stepping foot on the mound. The left-hander kept the Aviators out of the hit column for the first three innings, and finished his afternoon with eight strikeouts and one earned run in five frames.
Three insurance runs were added in the fifth and sixth innings, including two that were scored on wild pitches. Relievers Steven Okert, Dan Winkler, and Enderson Franco were fantastic out of the bullpen as they kept Las Vegas completely off the bases in the final 3.2 innings.
After fending off the Iowa Cubs on Sunday afternoon, the Round Rock Express advanced from the other side of the bracket. Neither the River Cats nor the Express have announced probable starters for Tuesday's series opener at Raley Field. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. (PT). Listen to all of the action live online at rivercats.com, on the MiLB First Pitch app, and on Money 105.5 FM.
This was the first postseason series victory for the franchise since 2011 when they advanced past Reno in five games to square off with the Omaha Storm Chasers, who would eventually sweep Sacramento. The River Cats will be looking for their fifth PCL championship, and first since 2008.
In the International League, the Durham Bulls swept the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and will face the Columbus Clippers in the Governors' Cup final with a shot at a three-peat. The winner of that series will meet up with the PCL champion on September 17 at AutoZone Park in Memphis for the Triple-A National Championship.
The Sacramento River Cats are the Triple-A affiliate of the three-time World Champion -San Francisco Giants. The team plays at Raley Field in West Sacramento, consistently voted one of the top ballparks in America. Season Tickets, Mini-Plans, and Flex Plans can be purchased for the River Cats' 20th season by calling the River Cats Ticket Hotline at (916) 371-HITS (4487). The only place to guarantee official River Cats tickets is at www.rivercats.com. For information on other events at Raley Field, visit www.raleyfield.com.
• Discuss this story on the Pacific Coast League message board...
Pacific Coast League Stories from September 8, 2019
- Aviators' Season Ends After 7-3 Loss to Sacramento - Las Vegas Aviators
- First-inning homers spark series-clinching win over Aviators - Sacramento River Cats
- American Conference Champions: Round Rock Steamrolls Iowa 10-5 to Advance to Pacific Coast League Championship - Round Rock Express
- Iowa Wraps 2019 Season with Loss in Semifinals - Iowa Cubs
- River Cats Defeat Aviators 5-3 to Stave off Elimination - Las Vegas Aviators
- River Cats hold off Aviators to force game five - Sacramento River Cats
- Cubs Top Express 5-4 in Dramatic 11-Inning Game Four - Round Rock Express
- Iowa Wins in Extras, Forces Game Five - Iowa Cubs
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.
Other Recent Sacramento River Cats Stories
- Sacramento River Cats 2019 End of Season Notes
- River Cats finish 2019 season as Triple-A National Champions
- River Cats sweep Express to capture PCL Championship
- Adames lifts River Cats over Express in game two
- Avelino provides walk-off as River Cats take Game 1