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Resilient Aviators Avoid Sweep, Win 6-1

June 3, 2007 - American Association (AA) - Coastal Bend Aviators News Release

After struggling for 2 ½ games against St. Paul pitching, the Coastal Bend Aviators finally broke through, breaking a 1-1 tie with a 5 run seventh inning to notch a 6-1 victory and avoid a three game sweep.

For the first five innings it was a pitching duel. Jose Luis Lopez, making his second start since joining the team on May 27th, went 5 solid innings striking out 3 and allowing only 4 hits and 1 unearned run. Saints starter Luis Villarreal was equally impressive going 6 innings, allowing 1 earned run, and striking out 8.

With the Aviators trailing 1-0 in the sixth, Grant Richardson took Villarreal deep to left center for his first homerun of the season to tie it at 1. Reliever Jamie Tricoglou entered the game in the bottom of the seventh to face leadoff hitter Phillip Grau. Grau sent a double to deep left center off the wall, and the Aviators were in business. Ryan Rachal moved him over with a nicely executed sacrifice bunt, bringing second baseman Brian Fryer to the plate. After several attempts to lift a ball to the right side, Fryer slashed a single through the right side to give the Aviators their first lead, 2-1.

James Lofton followed with a base on balls to put men at 1st and 2nd. J.D. Foust then knocked a single into left field to score Fryer and extend the lead to 3-1. Juan Figueroa walked to load the bases, and DH Bryon Smith brought 2 teammates home with his second hit of the night, a double that pushed the lead to 5-1. Not content with his homer the previous inning, Richardson gave the Aviators a little extra insurance by singling home Smith for the 6-1 margin.

Coastal Bend reliever Matt Wilkinson entered the game in the sixth, and after surrendering a leadoff double and a single, struck out two St. Paul batters with the bases loaded to escape without giving up a run. Tom Atlee pitched a scoreless ninth for Coastal Bend and struck out 2. Wilkinson got the win to improve to 2-0. Tricoglou (0-1) took the loss for St. Paul.

With the victory Coastal Bend improved to 8-14, and dropped St. Paul to 13-10. After an off day Sunday, the Aviators will hit the road for a week-long road trip beginning Monday night. They'll play 7 games against two Northern Division teams, the St. Joe Blacksnakes (3) and Sioux City Explorers (4) before returning home to face Pensacola on June 12th. Start time for each game this week is 7:05pm and can be heard locally on KOPY 1070 AM or online.

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