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Take offense: Rainiers rip four 400-foot homers in classic Vegas affair, win 12-11

RF Jarred Kelenic (TAC): 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs, BB | SS Kevin Smith (LV): 5-for-5, hit for the cycle (2 HR, 5 runs, 3 RBI)
September 18, 2022

Las Vegas, NV (9/17/22) – On a night where the clubs combined for 35 hits and eight home runs, the Tacoma Rainiers (67-73) clinched a winning 12-game road trip (7-4) and no worse than a six-game series split (3-2), by outlasting the Las Vegas Aviators (69-71) 12-11 on Saturday night.

Las Vegas, NV (9/17/22) – On a night where the clubs combined for 35 hits and eight home runs, the Tacoma Rainiers (67-73) clinched a winning 12-game road trip (7-4) and no worse than a six-game series split (3-2), by outlasting the Las Vegas Aviators (69-71) 12-11 on Saturday night. Tacoma snapped a modest two-game skid, and four of their seven wins on the trip have been by one run.

All four Rainiers homers traveled further than 400 feet. All nine Tacoma starters had at least one base hit, eight Rainiers scored at least one run, seven drove in at least one run. Six players collected multiple hits for the visitors.

The Aviators landed on a 5-0 lead after three innings. In a three-run second, Kevin Smith hit a two-run homer (6) and Tacoma native Nate Mondou rapped an RBI single, during a seven-batter frame. It was a seven-batter third for Vegas as well; Cal Stevenson singled home two runs with two out.

Making his Triple-A debut from High-A Lansing (Midwest League), it was a planned brief outing for Las Vegas right-hander Mason Miller: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K. 20 of Miller’s 30 pitches were for strikes.

A Rainiers home run flurry began in the fourth: Forrest Wall led off with a single and was still on base with two out when Jarred Kelenic cranked his 18th Triple-A homer of the season to right-center. In the fifth Erick Mejia (14) and Jonathan Villar (5) smacked back-to-back jacks to center, reducing the Las Vegas lead to a single run, 5-4. It was the eighth time this season Tacoma has hit consecutive home runs, but the first time since July 7 at Reno. It was the fourth time this year Mejia was involved in a back-to-back.

The Rainiers ended up batting around in the visiting fifth, as 10 batters produced six runs. After the homers, Drew Ellis, Wall and Cade Marlowe (RBI) each singled to tie it. With the sacks loaded, Brian O’Keefe dropped a bases-clearing double onto the warning track in left, and Tacoma led 8-5.

It was 8-6 after Matt Davidson’s 30th Triple-A homer this season to lead off the home fifth. The score was 8-7 when Smith hit his second homer of the night and third of the series later in the inning.

Tacoma lefty Austin Warner grinded through 4.1 IP: 10 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (88 pitches). In relief of Warner, left-hander Brennan Bernardino fired a flawless 1.2 IP, retiring five batters in order with two strikeouts.

Davidson’s second home run (31) went to the opposite field in the seventh. His sixth homer in five games of this series, and his eighth in his last nine games put Vegas back in front, 9-8. Skye Bolt was on base after a leadoff single when Davidson went deep. The Aviators rose to double-digits when Smith tripled for his fourth hit, and scored on a Stevenson single. Davidson had a four-hit night as well; he, Smith and Stevenson (three hits) each drove in three runs. Smith ended the evening with five knocks- and hit for the cycle.

Tacoma got to 10 in the eighth. Mason McCoy led off with his fifth triple of the year to center, and Ellis went yard to center a batter later, tying it once again. Ellis has 15 Triple-A homers this season. The Rainiers re-took the lead 11-10 later in the inning. Wall walked and stole second, and Kyle Lewis drove him home with a single up the middle. Wall stole two bases on Saturday, extending his career-high to 44. He’s second overall in Triple-A, and has the second-most steals in a single season in franchise history. Only Jimmy Sexton of the 1981 Tacoma Tigers (Oakland A’s) has swiped more; he had 56 during Tacoma’s first season as Oakland’s affiliate.

If you can call it an insurance run considering this type of contest, the Rainiers tacked on their 12th tally to go up by two before the eighth was over, a four-run frame. O’Keefe drove in his game-high fourth run with a single up the middle, scoring Derek Hill who pinch ran for Lewis and moved to second base on a ground out.

Kelenic and Ellis led the way with three knocks apiece, Wall (three runs), O’Keefe, Villar, and McCoy joined them with multi-hit efforts for Tacoma. O’Keefe’s RBI would indeed prove crucial.

In the bottom of the ninth, LHP Nick Ramirez survived three consecutive singles including Smith’s fifth hit to secure the cycle (Dalton Kelly RBI), rebounding to retire the next three in order on a strikeout and two grounders. Ramirez converted his league-leading 14th save.

The finale of this weeklong set will be on Sunday, an early 12:05 PT first pitch. Left-handers Justus Sheffield (Tacoma) and Zach Logue (Las Vegas) comprise the probable pitching matchup, as the Rainiers go for a series win.

Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto will have full coverage on TacomaRainiers.com. All 2022 Rainiers games, home and away, can also be heard for free on the MiLB First Pitch app. HD video broadcasts of every game can be viewed with a MiLB.TV subscription.

About the Tacoma Rainiers

The Tacoma Rainiers are the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. The Rainiers are a member of the Pacific Coast League and have been a Mariners affiliate since establishing the Rainiers moniker in 1995.

The most up-to-date news and notes about the Tacoma Rainiers and Cheney Stadium can be found at WeRTacoma.com, or by following the Rainiers on Twitter (@RainiersLand), Instagram (@tacomarainiers) and liking the team on Facebook.