It's safe to say the mood was a little lighter in the Las Vegas clubhouse Saturday night than it was on Friday.
One night after blowing a ninth-inning lead against Tucson, the 51s exacted revenge and nailed down a playoff berth with an 8-6 victory at Cashman Field.
The 51s locked up the Pacific Coast League Pacific South title, eliminating second-place Sacramento to end the River Cats' stranglehold on the division. The pennant is Las Vegas' first since winning a franchise-record 85 games in 2002. And it came in the team's first season as a Mets affiliate.
"For me, I give credit to the players and credit to the coaches," said manager Wally Backman, who also won division titles with Double-A Birmingham in 2002 and short-season Brooklyn in 2010.
"The work the coaches did this year was more work than I've seen coaches do in my whole career managing in the Minor Leagues."
Las Vegas got a pair of solo homers in the clincher as shortstop Ruben Tejada belted his second at Triple-A this season in the opening inning. Catcher Francisco Pena snapped a fourth-inning tie with his ninth of the year.
Tucson scored two runs in the fifth to take a 5-4 lead, but Las Vegas responded in the bottom of the inning on Jamie Hoffmann's two-run double.
Hoffman finished 2-for-4, while Eric Campbell went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. The pair has played more games with the 51s season than anyone else, with Campbell receiving team MVP honors.
"[Hoffmann] brought some leadership," Backman said. "I think the young players responded to that. It wasn't just him but other guys as well.
"Campbell is a winner, he wants to win. If you're going to grade him out, he's probably just average, but he's a winner and can play multiple positions and he's a fundamentally sound player that just wants to play and wants to win."
The 51s rolled after Hoffmann's double, adding two runs in the seventh before turning the ball over to Cory Wade in the ninth. Making his first appearance with Las Vegas since signing as a free agent, Wade surrendered a solo homer to Gregorio Petit but struck out two for the save.
Las Vegas is the third Mets' full-season affiliate to earn a playoff berth. Class A Savannah captured a first-half division title in the South Atlantic League, while Double-A Binghamton captured his first Eastern League division title since 2000.
Arkansas 3, Northwest Arkansas 2
Angels No. 2 prospect C.J. Cron scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning as Arkansas walked off with a victory and the Texas League second-half North Division title. Robbie Widlansky singled home Cyle Hankerd with the tying run in the ninth before Cron scampered home with the winning run.
Arkansas recorded its sixth straight win and improved to 38-30 in the second half, four games ahead of second-place Northwest Arkansas with two to play. Gameday box score»
Modesto 5, Stockton 3
Jared Simon slugged a three-run homer in the first inning and Modesto held off Stockton to clinch the California League North Division second-half crown. Nuts starter Chris Jensen earned his fifth win by limiting Stockton to two earned runs on six hits over six innings.
Modesto improved to 42-26 and will have homefield advantage against Visalia in next week's mini-series. Box score»
State College 7, Auburn 4
Backed by Michael Schulze, the Spikes locked up the first New York-Penn League Pinckney Division title in team history. Schulze went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored, while Steven Ramos collected three hits and also scored twice out of the leadoff spot.
State College starter Kevin Herget gave up two runs on four hits over six innings to improve to 7-0. Box score»