Final score says it all from Sutter Health Park in Sacramento as the Las Vegas Aviators defeat the Sacramento RiverCats by a run 2-1 in triple A action (@RiverCats photo)
By Stephen Ruderman
SACRAMENTO–Luis Matos’ eight-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-5 night, as the Las Vegas Aviators beat the River Cats 2-1 in the opener of a six-game series in Sacramento.
It was a mild and overcast day in Sacramento, as the tarp covered the field at Sutter Health Park following a late-afternoon thunderstorm. The rain cleared out, and the game started without delay.
Sean Hjelle took the mound for the River Cats, and he was opposed by the Aviators’ right-hander, Adam Oller. Both pitchers pitched well early on, and neither one of them gave up a hit until the third inning. The Aviators broke through with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, when center-fielder, Max Schuemann, knocked in a pair with a single down the right-field line.
Hjelle got out of the fifth without further damage, but he was pulled after five innings, as he gave up four hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Oller, meanwhile, pitched six shutout innings, walking three and striking out six, giving up just three hits.
Nick Swinney pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning for the River Cats, and he retired the first two men he faced in the seventh, but was pulled following a two-out walk. Spencer Patton pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for Las Vegas, and Nick Avila pitched through a leadoff walk in the top of the eighth for Sacramento.
The Aviators brought in the right-hander, Chad Smith, for the bottom of the eighth. Luis Matos flied out to center to start the inning, but Bryce Johnson reached on an infield hit up the third-base line, and Tyler Fitzgerald singled Johnson over to third on a perfectly-executed hit and run.
David Villar knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly to center to put the River Cats on the board, but Joey Bart swung out swinging on a slider off the outside to end the inning.
Cole Waites pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for Sacramento, and Las Vegas brought in Garrett Acton for the bottom of the ninth. Ford Proctor singled to right to start the inning, and then Colton Welker, who had already been hit by two pitches tonight, struck out, as he ended up going around on a pitch that got his wrist for a painful first out.
Will Wilson flew out to center, and Michael Gigliotti walked, which set things up for the red-hot Luis Matos, whose eight-game hitting streak was on the line along with the game. Matos fouled off three two-strike pitches, but on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, he popped up to the Aviators’ second-baseman, Zack Gelof, out in shallow center to end it.
Adam Oller got the win to improve to 2-2; Sean Hjelle got the loss to fall to 1-1; and Garrett Acton got his third save of the season. The River Cats fall to 26-32, and into last place in the Pacific Coast League West, as they are seven games back of the first-place Reno Aces.
On a side note, Joey Bart went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, as he continues his rehab.
Game 2 of the series will be tomorrow night at 6:45.