It went all the way down to the first day of September, but the Aviators earned a Pacific Coast League playoff berth with an 8-1 victory over the Tacoma Rainiers Sunday night at the Las Vegas Ballpark.
The best-of-five first-round playoff series begins Wednesday at Northern Division champion Sacramento.
On the same night that the Aviators enjoyed their 46th sellout and 23rd crowd of 10,000-plus, the team and fans celebrated a playoff berth.
Midway through the sixth inning, the Aviators learned that the El Paso Chihuahuas had lost 5-0 to Sacramento, meaning they had one mission: Win and get in.
Second baseman Mikey White’s home run in the third inning tied the score at 1. Catcher Cameron Rupp’s solo homer in the fourth gave the Aviators a lead they would not relinquish.
The Aviators added six more runs in the eighth inning, including a two-run home run by first baseman Alfonso Rivas, to clinch the victory and Pacific Southern Division title.
After surrendering a run in the first inning, starter James Kaprielian settled down, holding Tacoma scoreless through the fourth inning. Relievers Kyle Finnegan, Ben Bracewell and Matt Harvey blanked the Rainiers the rest of the way.
At 82-57, the Aviators are Southern Division champions and finish the regular season Monday against Tacoma.