The 51s launched a late comeback in the eighth inning Friday, awakening an offense that had been mostly quiet all night.
They did it in electrifying fashion, scoring one run on a Peter Alonso single and another two on a Patrick Kivlehan inside-the-park two-run home run.
But any momentum from the three-run eighth inning was quickly wiped out as Reno scored in the top of the ninth on a Gerson Bautista wild pitch to capture a 5-4 win over the 51s at Cashman Field.
“It shows that there’s no quit in us and we’re going to keep fighting for nine innings no matter what the score is,” Kivlehan said. “We’ll eventually start getting those wins and turning it around a little bit.”
Kivlehan finished the day with three hits, a bright spot offensively for the team, which had scored just one run heading into the eighth inning.
His inside-the-park home run — the first he can remember since little league — gave the 51s late life.
“I knew kind of once it hit the wall and where I was that it was going to be close and I was hoping (manager and third base coach Tony DeFrancesco would) send me so when he did, I tried to hit that extra gear,” Kivlehan said.
The Aces (34-40) came right back, though, as Ildemaro Vargas tripled off Bautista and scored right after on the wild pitch.
Las Vegas (31-43) had a chance in the ninth inning with Christian Colon singling to begin the inning.
But with a roster at 23 and no available position players because of injuries and call ups, DeFrancesco turned to pitcher Drew Gagnon to hit.
“The ninth inning, we kind of came up short,” DeFrancesco said. “Gagnon had to come up and bunt. They made a nice play, a double play to take us out of that inning.”
The 51s had plenty of opportunities earlier in the game but couldn’t capitalize thanks in part to base-running mistakes.
“At times (we were) too aggressive on the bases, made some mistakes and guys missing signs, trying to do too much,” DeFrancesco said.
The 51s also missed a big opportunity in the second inning to do more damage after they had loaded the bases with no outs.
They scored just one run, which came on a bases-loaded walk to Colon, but couldn’t do anything else off Reno starter Anthony Vasquez, who struck out Jose Lobaton and got starter Corey Oswalt to bounce into a double play.
“Early in the game, he didn’t have his command,” DeFrancesco said. “He fell behind. It’s just up to the guys to try to be more selective at the plate. I get we had a few lefties coming up in the lineup but to be an everyday player in the big leagues, you definitely have got to have quality at-bats against lefties. He wasn’t overpowering. He made some pitches when he had to.”
His counterpart, Oswalt, pitched well in his outing, though was bit by back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to Christian Walker and Socrates Brito.
“I thought he threw good. I thought he was aggressive in the zone, tried to elevate the fastball a couple times, pitch count got up high,” DeFrancesco said. “You get to the fifth inning, you’ve got to execute pitches at this ballpark and he left a changeup up, the guy hit a two-run homer, Walker, and then the lefty Brito came right back with a solo home run.”
Las Vegas finished 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position, leaving five on base.
“We’ve just got to come up with some timely hits and we didn’t do it tonight but to come back late like that, that was probably a positive from the game tonight,” DeFrancesco said.