Kirk Nieuwenhuis Leads Las Vegas 51s Invasion in 11-5 Win
There was a Kirk Nieuwenhuis siting on Friday night, something the Fresno Grizzlies could have done without. The Las Vegas 51s center fielder had a huge day at the plate, to lead his team to an 11-5 victory on the road.
Matt Bowman started for Las Vegas. He retired the Grizzlies in order in the first, but in the second Fresno got to him for a run. Jon Singleton beat out an infield single to start the inning, but was erased on a double-play ball by Alex Pressley. Robbie Grossman followed with a bloop single that was just out of the reach of the short stop. He stole second and Nolan Fontana followed with a double into right field to make it 1-0 for the home team. From there it was all Las Vegas.
Fresno starter Mike Hauschild had looked very good through the first three frames, retiring nine of the 11 batters he face. In the fourth it all came apart.
Johnny Monell began the inning by reaching on an error and moved to third on a double by Alex Castellanos. Nieuwenhuis came to the plate and, for the second straight night, he homered, driving a Hauschild pitch over the right field wall to make it 3-1.
In the top of the fifth, Danny Muno led off with a single and moved to second three batters later following a single by Castellanos. That brought Nieuwenhuis to the plate and, like an alien missile, he launched his third home run of the season over the right field wall. It was his second home run of the game. That would be it for Hauschild.
The Grizzlies starter went 4.2 innings, allowing 9 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned. He also struck out 3. Hauschild (1-1) had actually pitched quite well, but was hurt by the two long balls.
Up 6-1, the Las Vegas 51s extended their lead in the seventh, plating three more runs against Jose Veras. Munoz and Matt Reynolds delivered back-to-back singles to begin the inning, and Monell followed with his fifth home run of the year, drilling a Veras offering over the right field fence to make it 9-1. That was the third three-run home run the 51s hit in the game. Earl Weaver would have been proud.
Las Vegas added two more runs in the eighth and, amazingly, none scored on a home run. Jason Stoffel came in to pitch and gave up a lead-off double to Travis Taijeron. Muno singled two batters later to score Taijeron. Later Monell doubled to bring home Muno to make it 11-1.
The Fresno Grizzlies were down by 10 but, like a wounded bear, they battled back. Tony Kemp singled with one out and scored on a double by Jonathan Villar. Matt Duffy drew a walk and that would be it for Las Vegas starter.
Bowman (4-8) pitched 7.1 innings, allowing 6 hits, 3 walks and 4 earned runs. He struck out 3 in his 97 pitch performance. The victory was his second in a row, following a five-game losing streak earlier.
Chase Hutchingson entered the game and was greeted by a single by Singleton that scored Villar. A wild pitch brought home Duffy, and a ground out scored Singleton. That gave Fresno four runs in the inning, but 11-5 was as close as they were going to get.
The Las Vegas 51s had 16-hits in the game, four of which came off the bat of Muno. He was 4-5 with 3 runs scored and an RBI. Monell went 3-5 with 2 runs and 4 RBI. That moved his RBI total to 34.
The big story was Nieuwenhuis, however. He finished 3-5 with 2 runs, 6 RBI and 2 home runs. Since joining Las Vegas he is 7-13 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI. It wouldn’t be a surprise if there is an airline ticket to New York already waiting for the California native.
By Robert Pannier