Every postseason team needs a hero. Skye Bolt is hammering his way into that role for Las Vegas.
The A's No. 16 prospect bashed his third homer in as many games on Friday, propelling the Aviators to an 11-4 victory over the Sacramento and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 Pacific Coast League semifinals.
Video: Las Vegas' Bolt rips solo dinger
Sacramento got on the board first, getting a leadoff homer from Giants No. 27 prospect Abiatal Avelino, but Las Vegas wasted no time gaining the lead -- and then some. The Aviators tallied seven runs in the first three frames.
Gameday box score
Bolt, again, was a key part of the offense. After ripping a solo shot in the series opener on Wednesday and a two-run dinger in Game 2, he didn't miss a beat Friday, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. He laced a two-run double to center field in the third inning for his first hit of the night, extending the Aviators' lead to 6-1.
But the switch-hitter's biggest bash kicked off the bottom of the fifth. Batting right-handed, Bolt worked a 2-2 count against left-handed reliever Sam Moll before swatting a monster solo shot to the seats beyond the left field wall. The roundtripper stretched Las Vegas' cushion to 8-1.
"When I hit right-handed, I just try to keep it simple and put the barrel on the ball," Bolt said. "The opposing pitcher was slider-heavy and I knew that was the case for my at-bat from yesterday. I waited for the mistake over the plate, something I knew I could handle."
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For Bolt, the power surge could hardly come at a better time. The 23-year-old was limited by injury and coming off his least productive month of the season. His approach to the postseason may have helped him turn the page.
"I see the playoffs as a reset button," Bolt said. "Different guys treat it differently, and I know it's a lot different at the next level in the big leagues, but out here it slows things down for me. It gives me a chance to play the game every inning and try to win."
Bolt is batting .333 with a 1.552 OPS and six RBIs in the series.
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Top A's prospect Jesus Luzardo (1-0) earned the win in his playoff debut, holding the River Cats to a run on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. After Avelino's leadoff long ball, MLB.com's No. 18 overall prospect settled down, striking out seven batters and walking two.
"Jesus has always been a competitor," Bolt said. "He goes out and he attacks hitters. He has plus-plus stuff with two or three pitches -- he knows it and the other guy in the batter box knows it. He's different.
"It's fun playing defense behind him because you get little work out there. I can't speak highly enough on that guy's mind-set."
With a win Saturday, the Aviators can advance to the Championship Series in their inaugural season as an A's affiliate. Game 4 is at Las Vegas Ballpark.
In other Pacific Coast League action:
Cubs 3, Express 2
Iowa staved off elimination by holding off Round Rock in Game 3 of the other series. Michael Rucker (1-0) earned the win in relief, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks with four punchouts in 2 2/3 innings. Jhonny Pereda put the I-Cubs on the board in his Triple-A debut by hitting a two-run double in the second. Jim Adduci went 2-for-3 with a walk and drove in Iowa's other run. Ronnie Dawson belted a solo homer for the Express. Game 4 is Saturday in Iowa. Gameday box score