Duane Below Delivers Again in Las Vegas 51s 9-2 Win
In his second start since Noah Syndergaard was promoted to the Majors by the New York Mets, Duane Below continued to show that he truly is the new ace of the Las Vegas 51s pitching staff now. The win was the left-hander’s second straight complete game victory, and he has now allowed just one earned run in his last 18 innings pitched.
Below and Colorado Springs Sky Sox starter Josh Roenicke each breezed through the first two innings to keep the score knotted at zero. The Las Vegas starter retired the first six batters in order, while Roenicke retired the 51s in order in the first, then gave up a two-out single and walk in the second before ending the inning.
In the top of the third the Sky Sox took the lead when Yadiel Rivera led off the inning with a single and scored on an RBI ground out by Scooter Gennett to make it 1-0 Colorado Springs. The run broke an 11-innings scoreless streak by Below.
In the bottom of the third, Las Vegas took the lead against Roenicke. T.J. Rivera singled with two outs and Brooks Conrad followed with a single of his own. Johnny Monell then doubled to the wall in center field to score both runners and put the 51s on top 2-1.
In the bottom of the fourth the home team extended their lead when Brandon Allen led off the inning with his fifth home run of the year. That made the score 3-1.
Looking to give Below a little more cushion, the 51s plated two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Matt Reynolds opened the inning with his 15th double of the year, and scored three batters later on a sacrifice fly by Johnny Monell. Brooks Conrad had walked prior to the Monell fly out, and he scored when Alex Castellanos doubled into the gap in center field. That made the score 5-1, more than enough run support for Below on this night.
In the top of the sixth the Sky Sox scored a run against the Las Vegas starter. Back-to-back singles by Donnie Murphy and Gennett put runners at first and second with no one out. A double-play moved Murphy to third and wiped Gennett off the base paths. Shane Peterson singled to score Murphy to make it 5-2.
In the seventh and eighth Las Vegas scored a pair of runs in both frames to put this game away. With Nick Additon in to relieve for Colorado Springs, T.J. Rivera was hit by a pitch and Conrad and Monell followed with back-to-back singles. Monell’s hit drove home Rivera. Conrad scored on a fly out by Castellanos to make it 7-2.
Rob Wooten came in to pitch in the eighth for the Sky Sox, and he got the first two hitters out, but the hit by pitch came back to haunt him as well. Below was hit by a Wooten pitch which brought a lot of angst from the Las Vegas bench. Reynolds doubled to left field, moving Below to third, and Rivera followed with line drive double to left that scored both runners, to make the score 9-2.
Below (4-2) pitched masterfully in earning the win. He allowed 7 hits and 1 earned run, while striking out 2. Roenicke (2-1) took his first loss of the season.
The first six hitters in the Las Vegas 51s batting order did most of the damage. Reynolds had 3 hits, 2 runs and 2 doubles. Conrad was 2-4 with 3 runs scored. Combined the 1-6 hitters were 12-22 with 8 runs and 9 RBI.
By Robert Pannier