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Pérez homers twice, Aviators score late to top El Paso 9-5

Catcher Carlos Pérez homers twice and Las Vegas snaps a 5-5 tie with four runs in the 8th to improve to 8-3 in its last 11 games
Carlos Pérez homered in consecutive at-bats — a solo shot in the third inning and a two-run blast in the fifth — to help the Aviators to a 9-5 victory over El Paso on Friday. The veteran catcher now has eight home runs (including two grand slams) and 21 RBI in July. (Steve Spatafore | Las Vegas Aviators)
July 17, 2021

The Aviators tried multiple times to put away the El Paso Chihuahuas on Friday night at Las Vegas Ballpark. But every time Las Vegas appeared to seize momentum, the Chihuahuas snatched it away. That finally changed in the Aviators’ last at-bat, as they scored four runs in the bottom of

The Aviators tried multiple times to put away the El Paso Chihuahuas on Friday night at Las Vegas Ballpark. But every time Las Vegas appeared to seize momentum, the Chihuahuas snatched it away.

That finally changed in the Aviators’ last at-bat, as they scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 5-5 tie and take their fourth lead of the night. And this time, that lead held up, as the Chihuahuas went quietly in the top of the ninth, allowing Las Vegas to walk away with a 9-5 victory before a crowd of 6,235.

Catcher Carlos Pérez provided the offensive firepower with a pair of home runs and newcomer Homer Bailey delivered the second straight outstanding starting pitching performance for the Aviators (31-31), who improved to 8-3 in their last 11 games (including 5-0 at home) and climbed back to .500 for the season.

The classic back-and-forth battle began early on, as Las Vegas got on the board first courtesy of Cody Thomas’ two-out RBI single in the first. But El Paso (25-35) immediately answered an inning later on Matthew Batten’s sacrifice fly.

The Aviators regained the lead in the third when Pérez blasted Chihuahuas starter Caleb Boushley’s first pitch — a hanging curveball — over the left-field wall for a solo homer. Again, though, the Chihuahuas wasted no time playing catch-up, as Batten crushed a two-out solo homer off Bailey in the top of the fourth to tie the game 2-2.

That score held until the bottom of the fifth, when Las Vegas sent seven batters to the plate and scored three times to take a 5-2 lead. Yet again, Pérez delivered the big blow, as he followed Greg Deichmann’s one-out double with a two-run homer to left, giving him eight homers and 21 RBI in 13 games this month.

El Paso chipped away once more, though, scoring a run in the sixth and two in the eighth to force the third tie of the game.

At the same time the Chihuahuas were rallying, Las Vegas’ offense was shifting into neutral. In fact, after Pérez’s second home run the Aviators produced just three baserunners on a single, walk and hit batter. That all changed in the bottom of the eighth — and changed quickly.

Thomas and Francisco Peña led off the inning with consecutive doubles, and one out later Las Vegas loaded the bases on an intentional walk and a hit batter. Marty Bechina and Deichmann then drew consecutive bases-loaded walks, and Nate Mondou followed with a sacrifice fly.

Pérez then came up and flew out to center field to end the inning, but by that point the Aviators had batted around to turn a 5-5 tie into a 9-5 lead — a lead that would finally stand up, as closer Domingo Acevedo slammed the door shut by striking out three of the four batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth.

GAME NOTES: Pérez has now hit safely in 11 of 13 games in July, during which he’s batting .382 (21-for-55). Going back to June 12, the veteran catcher hit safely in 18 of 22 games, recording 11 multi-hit games during this stretch while raising his batting average from .200 to .300. … Bailey was outstanding in his first start with Las Vegas. The veteran right-hander yielded two runs on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts in four innings. Through the first two games of this series, Bailey and fellow starting pitcher Daulton Jefferies have allowed just nine baserunners (seven hits, two walks) and struck out seven in 11 innings. … Peña (1-for-4) extended his hitting streak to six in a row. During the streak, Peña is batting .445 (12-for-27) with two homers, eight RBI and nine runs scored. In the process, he’s raised his season batting average from .210 to .248. … Mondou (0-for-4) had his six-game hitting streak halted. … Las Vegas has hit at least one home run in 11 of its last 12 games, including the last seven in a row. Throw in a franchise-record 21-game home run streak from June 4-27, and the Aviators have now gone deep at least once in 32 of their last 37 contests. … El Paso pitchers beaned three Aviators hitters, with shortstop Pete Kozma getting plunked twice. The second one hit Kozma in the back of the helmet in the eighth inning, but he remained in the game. … Aviators left fielder Luis Barrera departed in the top of the third inning after injuring his right hamstring chasing a flyball in foul territory. He was replaced by Bechina.

SCHWINDEL RELEASED: In a surprising roster move, Aviators first baseman/cleanup hitter Frank Schwindel was designated for assignment Friday by the Oakland A’s (parent club of the Aviators).

Schwindel was the Aviators’ hottest and most productive hitter through the first seven weeks of this season prior to his promotion to Oakland on June 29. He went 3-for-20 — including a two-run homer in his very first at-bat — in eight games with the A’s before being optioned back to Las Vegas on Monday.

Schwindel, who started at first base and went 0-for-4 in the Aviators’ 5-1 victory over El Paso on Thursday, was released to free up a 40-man roster spot for Oakland. The 29-year-old New Jersey native now will go through waivers; if unclaimed by any of the other 29 MLB teams, he will become a free agent.

In 45 games with Las Vegas, Schwindel batted .317 with 16 homers, 41 RBI, 42 runs and 11 doubles, and he was named Triple-A West Player of the Week (for June 7-13).

ON DECK: Miguel Romero (0-3, 7.26 ERA), who began the season in the bullpen, will make his sixth consecutive start when he leads the Aviators against El Paso on Saturday in the third game of this six-game series. The Chihuahuas are scheduled to counter with southpaw Jerry Keel (1-2, 6.30).

First pitch is at 7:05 p.m., with the first 2,000 fans through the gates receiving a free pair of Aviators socks. Click here to purchase tickets.

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