In the opener of their three-game series Tuesday night, the Aviators and Round Rock Express combined for 28 runs and 32 hits in the highest-scoring game in the brief history of Las Vegas Ballpark.
It was a record that lasted all of 48 hours.
On a breezy Thursday night in which both teams combined for 19 extra-base hits (including nine home runs), the Express steamrolled the Aviators 26-11 before a sellout crowd of 9,767. The 37 combined runs not only established a record for Las Vegas Ballpark, they were the most runs scored in the 37-year history of Las Vegas' Triple-A franchise, breaking the previous mark of 35 set nearly 20 years ago to the day (June 8, 1999).
Additionally, the 26 runs allowed by the Aviators were the most in franchise history, besting the previous record of 24 by the Phoenix Firebirds on May 26, 1986.
Including the Aviators' 19-9 victory on Tuesday and Round Rock's 11-5 win on Wednesday, the two teams combined for 81 runs on 90 hits (including 20 home runs) during a three-game series in which three position players were called upon to pitch.
As wild as the first two games seemed, they actually were tame compared with Thursday's record-setting slugfest. Among the zaniness:
- There was at least one run scored in every inning but the first.
- Three different players hit two home runs, four players had at least four RBI, and six players scored at least three runs.
- All 20 offensive players who got into the game scored at least one run and 18 had at least one hit.
- All nine pitchers who took the mound gave up at least two runs, with eight surrendering at least three.
The unquestioned player of the game for Las Vegas (33-28) was second baseman Franklin Barreto, who followed up Tuesday's 4-for-5, six-RBI performance by going 5-for-5 with two home runs, a double, four RBI and three runs scored. Even though he failed to record a hit in four at-bats Wednesday, Barreto still finished the series 9-for-14 with three home runs, two doubles, 10 RBI and four runs scored.
Unfortunately for Las Vegas, Round Rock's Nick Tanielu and Taylor Jones were just as unstoppable. Over the three games, Tanielu - who arrived in Las Vegas with a .241 batting average and just four home runs the entire season - went 6-for-14 with four home runs, six RBI and eight runs, while Jones went 10-for-13 with two homers, eight RBI and eight runs. In Thursday's game alone, the duo combined to go 8-for-12 with eight runs, and each went deep twice and each had six RBI.
Difficult as it might be to believe given the final score, Thursday's contest actually was rather uneventful midway through, as the Express (36-24) led 5-1 after five innings. That lead moved to 6-3 in the sixth when Round Rock plated one run on Jamie Ritchie's double, and Barreto answered with a two-run homer in the bottom of the frame.
But that's when things went off the rails.
In the top of the seventh, the first 11 Express batters reached base safely, and by the time Joshua Rojas struck out for the final out, Round Rock had sent 19 men to the plate and scored 13 times to take a 19-3 lead. The Aviators countered with four runs in their half of the seventh, meaning the squads combined for 17 runs on 15 hits and five walks in a single inning.
Not wanting to burn any additional relief pitchers in a blowout game, Las Vegas manager Fran Riordan called upon infielders Corban Joseph and Eric Campbell to pitch the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. Unfortunately, the Express showed little mercy, scoring seven more runs on six hits and two walks.
Refusing to go down quietly, Las Vegas sent seven men to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and scored four times. Fittingly, Barreto accounted for the first run with his second homer of the game, while Joseph (RBI double) and Campbell (two-run homer) got some measure of revenge with a pair of run-scoring hits that produced the game's 35th, 36th and 37th runs - and a bit of history.
GAME NOTES: Prior to Thursday's game, the Oakland A's promoted Aviators relief pitcher Ryan Dull and optioned starter Daniel Mengden back to Las Vegas. ... Aviators shortstop Jorge Mateo went 2-for-5 Thursday, including his Pacific Coast League-leading 10th triple, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. … In the first five games of June, Barreto is 15-for-22 with four home runs, three doubles, 13 RBI and seven runs. Since May 19, the 23-year-old from Venezuela has raised his average from .215 to .290. … Of the 23 pitchers who saw action in the three-game series, 21 gave up at least one run, including all 13 Las Vegas hurlers. ... Thursday's sellout was the 23rd of the season at Las Vegas Ballpark. … The Aviators continue their seven-game homestand Friday when they begin a four-game series against the San Antonio Missions (38-23). In the series opener, southpaw Tyler Alexander (1-3, 6.85 ERA) will take the ball for Las Vegas and oppose Missions right-hander Burch Smith (3-2, 2.45). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m., and the first 2,500 fans will receive an Aviators T-shirt, courtesy of Labors Local 872.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.