In a season full of losses, the 51s have endured plenty of tough ones.
But Saturday’s had to be up there on the list, as the 51s saw their late lead slip away when the El Paso Chihuahuas pushed across three runs in the ninth inning to win 4-3 in the second game of a four-game series at Southwest University Park in El Paso, Texas.
“Besides the last two innings, I thought that it was a really good ballgame,” Las Vegas manager Pedro Lopez said. “I thought that Ricky Knapp did a really good job. I thought we played defensively really well, got big hits from (Gavin) Cecchini and (Matt) Reynolds and just unfortunately defensively made a couple miscues that cost us the game.”
Las Vegas (45-75) was one out from a victory when Jamie Callahan got Travis Jankowski to ground a ball toward Phillip Evans at third base. Evans turned and threw to Cecchini, and though his throw was a bit high, it should have been caught.
Because of Cecchini’s error, Diego Goris came around to score the tying run for El Paso (58-62).
After a walk to Chase d’Arnaud, Franchy Cordero singled home the winning run off Callahan.
Callahan allowed all three runs, as Ryan Schimpf hit a home run to lead off the ninth to cut the Las Vegas lead to 3-2.
The 51s had been leading since the second inning when Cecchini hit a two-run single. Reynolds added an RBI single in the sixth.
Knapp allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings, but it probably should have been eight scoreless innings.
With two outs, center fielder Victor Cruzado overran the ball and slipped on the warning track, giving the Chihuahuas their first run and ending Knapp’s night.
“I think you’ve got to look back at the eighth inning. That’s the third out of the inning,” Lopez said. “That run doesn’t come across, and then you put the home run hit by Schimpf in the ninth, and even if we make that error in the ninth inning, I think we’ve still got the lead 3-2, and I think the outcome would have been different.”
The right-hander took a no-decision despite one of his best starts this season, which helped preserve a bullpen that had been forced into action early on Friday night because of a lengthy rain delay.
“He had really good command of his fastball,” Lopez said. “Mixed pitches well. Kept those hitters, a good lineup, off balance and actually did a really good job. Deserved to get a win tonight, and just unfortunately it didn’t pan out that way.”
Who: 51s at El Paso Chihuahuas
When: 5:05 p.m. Sunday
Where: Southwest University Park, El Paso, Texas
Starters: Mitch Atkins (3-6, 7.13 ERA), 51s, vs. Bryan Rodriguez (6-7, 4.74 ERA)
Monday: Las Vegas at El Paso, 6:05 p.m.
Tuesday: Las Vegas at Fresno, 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday: Las Vegas at Fresno, 7:05 p.m.
Thursday: Las Vegas at Fresno, 7:05 p.m.
Friday: Las Vegas at Fresno, 7:05 p.m.
The 51s activated reliever Beck Wheeler from the disabled list and put reliever Josh Edgin on it. Edgin has thrown 3 1/3 innings and allowed one run in three games since joining the team in early August.
Contact Betsy Helfand at email@example.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.