Las Vegas 51s Turn Tables with Late Rally that Cages Chihuahuas
It seems like just yesterday that the El Paso Chihuahuas entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 2-0, only to see the team put together a two out rally to win the game 3-2. Actually, it was just yesterday when that occurred, and while the Chihuahuas were enjoying their late game heroics, the Las Vegas 51s were none too happy to see a win taken away from them like that. The 51s pride themselves on holding leads, and to see victory taken away from them in that manner didn’t sit too well at all.
It was with those thoughts in mind that Las Vegas took the field looking to even the four-game series with El Paso. For five innings El Paso clung to a 1-0 lead, only to see Las Vegas create their own rally to down the Chihuahuas with a three-run seventh inning that saw the 51s win 3-1.
Both starters pitched incredibly well. El Paso starter Chris Smith and Las Vegas hurler Tyler Pill had entered the contest struggling early this season. Both had ERAs over seven, and the game had the makings of a slugfest. It may have looked that way on paper, but these are two men with quality stuff, and it was on display today.
Las Vegas had a runner on base in each of the first three innings, but came away empty-handed. Smith struck out the last batter of the third inning, which began a run of the Chiihuahuas’ starter retiring nine of ten batters. That included five by strikeout.
While Smith was keeping the 51s off the scoreboard, Pill was pitching nearly as well. He retired the side in order in five of seven innings he pitched in. His only run allowed came in the second inning when Tommy Medica stole home to make it 1-0. It was a brilliant double steal that caught Pill off-guard.
The score remained 1-o until the top of the seventh. El Paso pulled Smith and replaced him with Leonel Campos. Eric Campbell walked to lead-off the seventh. One out later Chris Rearick replaced Campos, and he walked Brandon Allen to make it first and second with one out. Brooks Conrad followed with a double that scored both runs, and the Las Vegas 51s had their first lead of the day.
Again the Chihuahuas made a pitching change, this time turning to Nick Vincent. Dan Rohlfing greeted the new reliever with a single that moved Conrad to third base, and Pill helped himself out with a sacrifice fly that made it 3-1.
In the ninth inning both teams would threaten. Rohlfing reached on an error with two outs and Travis Taijeron was hit by a pitch. Danny Muno hit one hard, but Rico Noel made the catch to end the threat.
In the bottom of the ninth Scott Rice took over to begin the frame. He recorded the first two outs, but then walked Alex Dickerson and Tommy Medica. The game was beginning to have the same feeling as yesterday’s contest, but Rice remained calm, striking out Brett Wallace to end the game.
Pill (1-0) earned his first win of the season with seven innings of three hit, one walk ball. He also struck out eight batters. Rice earned his first save of the season. Rearick (0-1) was credited with the loss. Smith saw his six shutout innings wasted. The right-hander allowed four hits in that span, while striking out seven.
The Las Vegas 51s only mustered six hits on the day, three of which came off of the bat of Darrell Ceciliani. No El Paso player had more than one hit.
El Paso moves on to face Reno tomorrow evening. Robbie Erlin (4-2, 4.96) goes to the hill for the Chihuahuas. The Las Vegas 51s return home to face the Sacramento River Cats. Game time is 7:05 local time.
By Robert Pannier