Mateo, Joseph Lead Aviators to Rain-Shortened Victory over Bees
If a steady stream of opposing pitchers couldn't cool off Aviators teammates Jorge Mateo and Corban Joseph during the first six games of a 12-game homestand at Las Vegas Ballpark, a steady stream of rain showers Thursday night wasn't about to extinguish the hot-hitting duo, either.
Joseph went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs and Mateo added a pair of hits, an RBI and scored a run, helping Las Vegas to a rain-shortened 7-5 victory over the Salt Lake Bees before a sellout crowd of 9,565. In a back-and-forth game that featured five lead changes in 6½ innings of play, the Aviators (21-14) overcame deficits of 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3 for their third consecutive come-from-behind victory.
Las Vegas is now 4-3 on its season-long homestand, one that Mateo and Joseph have thoroughly enjoyed. Through the first seven games, Mateo is 12-for-33 (.364 batting average) with two doubles, two triples, three home runs, eight RBI and four stolen bases. Remarkably, Joseph has been even better, going 16-for-27 (.593) with four doubles, a triple, a home run and seven RBIs.
Mateo is now batting .344 with a Pacific Coast League-leading 52 hits, while Joseph - who ended April with a .293 batting average - is now hitting .391, good for second in the PCL.
The Bees (10-23) got on the board first Thursday, courtesy of Jared Walsh's third-inning sacrifice fly. The Aviators promptly answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning, as Joseph's double scored Dustin Fowler from third, with Mateo following right behind him on a fielding error by center fielder Cesar Puello.
Salt Lake regained the lead with a pair of runs in the fourth on another sacrifice fly and an error, but the Aviators tied it once again in the fifth - and once again, it was Joseph coming through in the clutch, singling home Seth Brown with two outs.
The Bees quickly answered once more, though, taking a 4-3 lead on Puello's RBI single in the sixth. And again the Aviators rallied, this time sending eight men to the plate and scoring four times in their half of the sixth. With two outs and the rain intensifying, Eric Campbell contributed a game-tying RBI single, and Fowler and Mateo followed with consecutive RBI doubles, with Fowler's hit driving in two to give Las Vegas a 7-4 advantage.
Salt Lake immediately tried to mount yet another rally in the seventh, getting a leadoff home run from Luis Rengifo before loading the bases on a single and two walks. But Las Vegas reliever Wei-Chung Wang battled wiggled out of the jam on two strikeouts and a groundout.
That's when the umps called for the tarp, where it remained for the rest of the night - ironically costing Joseph, who was due up first in the bottom of the seventh, his fourth at-bat. So, in a way, the rain really did cool him off.
Game Notes: After three consecutive less-than-stellar starts, Jake Buchanan bounced back with a quality outing for Las Vegas. The right-hander went five innings, surrendering three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out three, but he got a no-decision. ... Norge Ruiz (1-1) relieved Buchanan in the sixth and earned the win despite allowing two runs on five hits in one-plus innings, while Wang earned his first save of the season. ... Joseph and Mateo have now hit safely in eight straight games, while Fowler (10-for-22) extended his hitting streak to five in a row. However, Beau Taylor (0-for-1, two walks) had his seven-game hit streak halted.
Climbing the Ranks: In addition to leading the PCL in hits, Mateo tops the league with nine triples and 11 stolen bases, and he's tied for fourth in runs scored with 31. Besides Mateo and Joseph, other Aviators moving up the PCL leaderboards include Brown, who is tied for fifth in extra-base hits (20) and tied for sixth in home runs (10); Mark Payton, who is tied for fifth in RBI (30); and Taylor, who is tied for sixth in walks (22).
On the pitching side, staff ace Daniel Mengden is seventh in ERA (2.77), tied for second in strikeouts (44), tied for third in innings (39) and tied for fourth in WHIP (1.10). Also, Paul Blackburn is tied for second in victories (4), while closer Brian Schlitter is tied for second in saves (5).
Home, Sweet Home: The Aviators also lead the league in one other category: fan support. Through 19 games (16 sellouts) at Las Vegas Ballpark, 181,281 fans have passed through the turnstiles for a per-game average of 9,541. Both figures lead the PCL. The Sacramento River Cats rank second in total attendance at 132,688, while the Round Rock Express are second with a per-game average of 9,136.
On Deck: The four-game series against the Bees concludes at 7:05 p.m. Friday when Blackburn (4-1, 4.50 ERA) opposes Salt Lake lefty Patrick Sandoval (0-0, 2.45). The first 2,500 fans who enter the ballpark will receive a free Aviators canvas bag, courtesy of Pulte Homes.
Catch every Aviators game throughout the season on NBC Sports Radio 920-AM, and follow us on Twitter @AviatorsLV.
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Pacific Coast League Stories from May 10, 2019
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- OKC Dodgers Game Notes - May 10, 2019 - Oklahoma City Dodgers
- Bees Fall in Rain Shortened Contest - Salt Lake Bees
- River Cats Finish up 12-Game Homestand with a Packed Weekend - Sacramento River Cats
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