Las Vegas 51s Rebound to Crush El Paso Chihuahuas, 11-4
The Las Vegas 51s saw two big losses occur yesterday. First, their 14-game win streak came to an end, and secondly ace starter Noah Syndergaard was promoted to the New York Mets pitching staff. The club’s response to the key losses was to do what they do best – win. The 51s rode a four-run fourth and a five-run fifth on their way to an 11-4 victory.
Duane Below started for Las Vegas while Daniel McCutchen took the hill for El Paso. Neither team was able to muster any offense over the first two innings of the game. Both teams were able to put runners on base, but neither could take advantage of opportunities they had. That is until the top of the third.
McCutchen was pitching well. He had given up two hits and walk in the first two frames, and retired the first two batters of the third inning, one by strikeout. That brought Darrell Ceciliani to the plate, who crushed a McCutchen offering over the right-centerfield wall for his fifth home run of the year. The Chihuahuas’ starter responded by striking out the next batter to end the inning, but it was clear that the shot had affected him.
In the top of the fourth he walked the first batter of the inning, Eric Campbell. Campbell then advanced to second on a fielder’s choice, with Alex Castellanos being safe on the play. McCutchen then attempted to pick off Campbell from second, but his throw went wild, allowing both runners to move up 90-feet. Brooks Conrad then grounded to first baseman Cody Decker who fired home, but Campbell beat the throw, and everyone was safe. That made it 2-0 and there was still runners on first and third with no one out.
McCutchen was clearly struggling and needed a big pitch to turn the tide toward getting his club off the field. Brandon Allen came to the plate but he clearly had other ideas. He took an offering from the Chihuahuas’ starter and deposited it over the right-centerfield fence for a three-run homer to make it 5-0.
Stephen Kohlscheen took over for El Paso in the top of the fifth, but the results were not any better. Ceciliani led off with a ground-rule double, and Matt Reynolds and Campbell followed with walks to load the bases with no one out. Castellanos grounded to the El Paso shortstop who couldn’t handle the grounder and every one was safe, with Ceciliani scoring. Conrad then blasted a grand slam to nearly the same spot as Allen’s fourth inning home run to make it 10-0. Kohlscheen struck out the next three batters to end the inning, but the 10-run lead put the game out of reach.
El Paso got on the board in the bottom of the fifth. A two-out double by Mike McCoy scored Ramiro Pena to make it 10-1. McCoy’s double came on the 87th pitch by Below, and he would be pulled before the inning ending, denying him the victory. John Church (2-1) closed out the fifth and gained the win.
The pitch count forced Below to receive a no-decision, but he pitched very well for the 51s. The left-hander allowed six hits and a walk in 4.2 innings pitched. He allowed just the one run, while striking out four. The outing left him with a 1.56 ERA.
The Chihuahuas added another run in the sixth when Decker led off with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Rico Noel. They would also add two more in the bottom of the ninth. Pena scored on a ground out by Jake Goebbert and Rymer Liriano crossed the plate following a Decker single.
The 51s’ other run came in the top of the seventh. Castellanos singled with one out. Following a strikeout, Allen ripped a double to the wall in left moving Castellanos to third. Nelfi Zapata then ripped a shot to the third baseman who could not handle it, allowing Castellanos to score.
The Las Vegas 51s got 11 runs off of 11 hits and 4 walks. Allen went 3-4 with 3 RBI. The output now gives him 16 RBI on the season, which ties him with Travis Taijeron for third most on the club. Danny Muno and Ceciliani each had two hits.
Looking to get another 14-game win streak rolling, the Las Vegas 51s go for win No. 2 Sunday against El Paso. Steven Matz (4-1, 2.04) will go to the mound against Jason Lane (3-2, 4.86). Game time is 1:05 local time.
By Robert Pannier