LAS VEGAS, Nevada - The Las Vegas 51s brought the offense on Opening Day as they defeated the Fresno Grizzlies 9-2 in front of 6,002 fans at Cashman Field Thursday night.
Left-handed starter Mike Kickham (L; 0 ER/5.0 IP, 6 K) cruised through the first four innings before finding trouble in the fifth. After striking out fellow pitcher Rafael Montero for the second out, he was on his way to securing the third until center fielder Gary Brown mishandled a fly ball to allow runners to advance to second and third. One batter later, 51s first baseman Eric Campbell (1-3, 2 RBI) roped a grounder past Adam Duvall at third to give Las Vegas an early 2-0 lead.
"I thought [Kickham] threw very well," stated manager Bob Mariano. "He mixed up his speeds and hit both sides of the plate. He made pitches when he had to and he helped himself out with a couple pickoffs at first base."
George Kontos (5 ER/1.2 IP) relieved Kickham in the sixth and offered up a 0-1 opposite field homer to Kirk Nieuwenhuis (4-4, HR, 2 R), putting the 51s up 3-0. The solo blast marked the second time he has homered off Kontos in as many years.
Fresno third baseman Adam Duvall (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, R) made things cozy for a half inning when he cranked a two-run homer deep over the left center field wall to bring the Grizzlies within one.
But a five-run seventh by Las Vegas made it too wide of a gap to close. A wild pitch by Kontos plated a fourth 51s run and then a grand slam by third baseman Zach Lutz (2-4, HR, 4 RBI) on the first pitch by reliever Adam Reifer (2 ER/1.1 IP) made it 8-2 Las Vegas.
The 51s three-through-five hitters combined to go 7-11 with two homers and 7 RBI.
Fresno catcher Andrew Susac made favorable impression in his Triple-A debut by going 2-4 and a run scored. Both Gary Brown (1-4) and Chris Dominguez (1-4, SB) collected doubles.
51s starter Rafael Montero, the Mets' No. 3 Prospect according to Baseball America, earned the victory by throwing 6.0 scoreless IP and striking out five.
The two teams square off tomorrow night at Cashman Field when the Grizzlies send right-hander Mitch Lively to the hill to face Mets' No. 1 Prospect Noah Syndergaard. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. A live radio stream can be found online at kynofresno.com