Losing Streak Reaches Six with 3-1 Loss
The Coastal Bend Aviators are searching for answers. Saturday night at Fairgrounds Field, the Aviators continued their week long struggle to score runs, wasting a fine performance by their bullpen which was forced into extended duty due to an injury to starter JR Pickens.
The game was a microcosm of their six game home losing streak. The Aviators scored just 1 run for the third consecutive night against Pensacola to bring their grand total over the last five games to 3. They left a runner at third who'd reached with less than 2 out, had a runner thrown out at the plate with their hottest hitter on deck, and had a batter strike out with the bases loaded.
Pickens left the game in the first inning with an apparent leg injury. He fell off the mound awkwardly while attempting to deliver a pitch to Pensacola's Marcos Rodriguez. After being attended to by the training staff and umpires it was determined he could not continue and was replaced by left hander Miguel Martinez. Martinez pitched effectively for 3.1 innings before a parade of Aviator relievers saw the game to its completion.
Coastal Bend grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third inning when centerfielder Travis Tully tripled to left off Pelicans starter Joel Baca. Will Lewis, who had singled earlier in the inning, scored on the play. Matt Spencer then struck out and James Lofton grounded out to strand Tully at third.
The Pelicans scored single runs in all three middle innings. Catcher Michael DeCarlo's single to left scored Bo Williams from third to tie the game in the fourth. In the fifth, facing reliever Tim Haines, Ricardo Cordova singled and stole second and third before Marcos Rodriguez's infield single down the third base line widened the gap to 2-1. In the sixth, DeCarlo stung the Aviators again with a double to right center which scored Trino Aguilar and pushed the lead to 3-1.
The Aviators had a golden opportunity in their half of the fifth and came up empty. Tully walked and Spencer singled to left to bring Lofton to the plate. With Grant Richardson on deck, he smacked a single to left field. Tully was waived around third and for the second time in the series, Pelicans leftfielder Napoleon Calzado threw a strike to the plate to cut down a runner. Richardson hit a grounder to third which saw Lofton forced out at second to end the threat.
In the eighth, three singles loaded the bases with two out for Steve Ketter. Pensacola went to their bullpen and brought in their closer, Chris Thompson who is among the American Association's leaders in saves. Facing a 3-1 count Ketter took a called strike two to run the count full. He swung and missed at the next pitch to retire the side.
Aviators closer Tom Atlee, having not pitched in a week, came on to work the ninth and retired the Pelicans in order. Tully reached with a two out single in the ninth before Spencer's fly ball to left field ended the game.
The longest home losing streak in the American Association thus far this season belongs to the Sioux City Explorers who dropped 7 straight at home in late June and early July. The Aviators will turn to their lefty ace Derrick Van Dusen to avoid tying that mark tomorrow. Pensacola will send out righty Jesen Merle. Game time is 7:05pm and can be heard locally on KOPY 1070 AM or online.
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