First-inning homers spark series-clinching win over Aviators

River Cats to face the Round Rock Express in the PCL Championship

By Sacramento River Cats | September 8, 2019 6:24 PM

SUMMERLIN, Nev. -- Shortstop Abiatal Avelino led off the ballgame with a home run for the second time in three days. It set the tone for the first inning, as well as the rest of the game as the Sacramento River Cats defeated the Las Vegas Aviators 7-3 to win the series and advance to the Pacific Coast League Championship.

Following Avelino's solo shot, Joe McCarthy and Zach Houchins would go back to back to give Caleb Baragar a four-run cushion before even stepping foot on the mound. The left-hander kept the Aviators out of the hit column for the first three innings, and finished his afternoon with eight strikeouts and one earned run in five frames.

Three insurance runs were added in the fifth and sixth innings, including two that were scored on wild pitches. Relievers Steven Okert, Dan Winkler, and Enderson Franco were fantastic out of the bullpen as they kept Las Vegas completely off the bases in the final 3.2 innings.

After fending off the Iowa Cubs on Sunday afternoon, the Round Rock Express advanced from the other side of the bracket. Neither the River Cats nor the Express have announced probable starters for Tuesday's series opener at Raley Field. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. (PT). Listen to all of the action live online at, on the MiLB First Pitch app, and on Money 105.5 FM.

Additional Notes

• This was the first postseason series victory for the franchise since 2011 when they advanced past Reno in five games to square off with the Omaha Storm Chasers, who would eventually sweep Sacramento. The River Cats will be looking for their fifth PCL championship, and first since 2008.

• In the International League, the Durham Bulls swept the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and will face the Columbus Clippers in the Governors' Cup final with a shot at a three-peat. The winner of that series will meet up with the PCL champion on September 17 at AutoZone Park in Memphis for the Triple-A National Championship.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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