It took 11 innings for Las Vegas to finally build a lead that El Paso couldn’t come back from.
The 51s never trailed in Monday’s 9-6 extra-innings win over host El Paso at Southwest University Park, but they did see four separate leads erased before breaking through for four runs in the 11th.
Las Vegas (4-8) took its first lead in the second inning on a Phillip Evans RBI single.
But an inning later, a David Thompson error allowed the Chihuahuas (7-5) to tie the game.
Starter Drew Gagnon kept the Chihuahuas at bay for most of his outing, giving up three runs — two earned — in 5⅔ innings while striking out 10 and walking none.
“He was great. He located his fastball, had a great changeup, made some pitches. Got into the sixth inning, we had a 3-1 lead,” manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “He left the ball out over the plate for Allen Craig whose been in the big leagues for quite a few years, left one out over the plate. Hit an opposite field homer but I think he had at least 10 strikeouts. Outstanding.”
After the 51s had scored two in the top of the sixth inning, Gagnon gave up the home run to Craig to tie it back up.
In the seventh, Las Vegas scored once only to see El Paso respond in the bottom of the frame.
And the same thing happened in the ninth. The 51s looked like they were headed toward a nine-inning win after a Bryce Brentz sacrifice fly put them ahead once more. But a two-out Franmil Reyes single plated the game-tying run, this time to force extras.
The 51s were playing under the new Minor League Baseball rules — in which each team starts with a runner on second base in extra innings — for the first time, a rule which DeFrancesco said he liked.
“I know from my standpoint and the pitching coach Glenn (Abbott) that it saves our bullpen,” DeFrancesco said. “That thing goes 13, 14 innings, we’ll be in trouble for tomorrow.”
Put it in the books! We've won our first extra innings game of the season. After 11 innings of play, Las Vegas takes the series finale against the @epchihuahuas: 👽 9, 🐶 6. Box Score: https://t.co/Y3WHS5Vxpk
— Las Vegas 51s (@LasVegas51s) April 16, 2018
Things didn’t start off so well in extras for the 51s with Patrick Biondi, who started the 10th on second, picked off, but Drew Smith worked through a scoreless bottom of the 10th and Las Vegas capitalized after that.
Johnny Monell, who was playing in his first game since rejoining the Mets organzation, singled to drive in Dominic Smith and put the 51s up for good. Evans drove in another run in the inning and Luis Guillorme’s double helped put the game beyond El Paso’s reach.
“That’s a good team over there. They’ve got the No. 1 minor league system. They’ve got some veteran guys that have been over there, been through this before and we’ve got to make some quality outs,” DeFrancesco said of the Chihuahuas, who have given the 51s trouble early on. “Our bullpen, we added a couple young guys with Corey Taylor and Drew Smith. Both of those guys … they gave up runs but it was good to see (Jamie) Callahan come back in with a big save.”