Wally Backman gave his blessing Friday night for Jake St. Clair to propose marriage to his daughter, Natasha Backman, who was shown on the Cashman Field scoreboard tearfully accepting the proposal after the fourth inning of the 51s’ home opener.
The Las Vegas manager also approved of his team erasing an 8-1 deficit to the Fresno Grizzlies. But Backman couldn’t give his blessing to his pitching staff, which was lit up early and couldn’t hold a late lead in an 11-10 loss to Fresno before a sellout crowd of 11,007 that saw plenty of action before the postgame fireworks show.
The 51s (4-5) trailed 6-0 in the second inning and 8-1 in the third before exploding for six runs in the sixth — five with two outs — to go ahead 9-8.
Wilfredo Tovar hit an RBI double and Matt Reynolds drilled a two-run double before Alex Castellanos and Johnny Monell belted back-to-back home runs off of Gonzalo Sanudo to put Las Vegas in front.
Fresno (7-2) quickly reclaimed the lead in the seventh, when Domingo Santana reached on an error — one of three by Las Vegas — and Andrew Aplin and Max Stassi mashed back-to-back homers off Duane Below to put the Grizzlies ahead 11-9.
The 51s, who had 18 hits, scored single runs in the second, third, fifth and eighth, when Castellanos launched a leadoff double off the left-field wall and scored on a one-out RBI single by Brandon Allen to make it 11-10. Travis Taijeron then struck out looking and Wilfredo Tovar grounded out.
Las Vegas, which went down in order in the ninth, left 11 men on base. It missed a chance to do additional damage in the fifth, when Fresno third baseman Matt Duffy robbed Kevin Plawecki of a probable two-run double when he made a stellar backhanded stop of a hard-hit ball down the line and threw out the catcher to end the inning.
The Grizzlies jumped on 51s starter Tyler Pill for six runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings. Fresno first baseman Jon Singleton capped a five-run second and chased Pill with a towering two-run homer that almost hit the scoreboard in left field.
The 51s left runners on second and third in the second, when Castellanos, Monell and Plawecki opened the inning with three straight singles but the next three batters were retired by Grizzlies starter Alex White.
Castellanos, Monell, Plawecki and Allen each had three hits for Las Vegas and Reynolds had two hits and three RBIs. Below, who took the loss, had seven strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.
■ NOTES — The New York Mets recalled infielder Danny Muno from the 51s and optioned right-handed pitcher Rafael Montero to Las Vegas. Muno, 26, had a pinch-hit infield single and a steal in his big-league debut Friday in the Mets’ 4-1 victory over the Miami Marlins. … The crowd of 11,007 was Las Vegas’ largest for a home opener since 10,622 fans attended the franchise’s inaugural game on April 10, 1983. … Right-handed pitcher Noah Syndergaard, New York’s top prospect, is slated to start today for the 51s.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.