Sacramento shortstop Thairo Estrada went 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs, and six River Cats pitchers allowed four hits, spoiling the Aviators’ opener Thursday night at Las Vegas Ballpark.
Sacramento’s 8-1 victory featured little fanfare and half capacity with an announced crowd of 5,002 watching the first game at the Ballpark in 606 days.
This was the teams’ first matchup since September 2019, the last game at the Ballpark before COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 minor league season.
River Cats catcher Joe Bart hit a seventh-inning homer that expanded the lead to four runs one inning after Aviators outfielder Skye Bolt cut the lead to two runs with an RBI single. Estrada’s three-run homer in the eighth inning made it 8-1.
The game also featured the comeback of Las Vegas native Drew Robinson, who received an ovation from the crowd during his first at-bat in the second inning. Robinson, who attended Silverado High School, survived a suicide attempt last year and lost his right eye.
Robinson, starting in right field for the River Cats, was 0-for-4.
The River Cats opened the scoring in the third inning after a leadoff triple from Mitchell Tolman.
He scored on Estrada’s single on the next at-bat.
In the fifth, the River Cats pushed the lead to 3-0 on Chadwick Tromp’s two-out double to deep center, bringing in two runs.
The Aviators scored in the sixth on Bolt’s RBI single. Bolt, who played for the Aviators in 2019, was re-acquired by the Oakland A’s from the San Francisco Giants, the River Cats’ MLB parent club, on Wednesday for cash.
Pitcher James Kaprielian started for the Aviators. Kaprielian, who is expected to see major league time with the A’s this season, gave up one run and eight hits in 4⅔ innings.
The Aviators coaches said before the game that Kaprielian would be good for around 70 to 75 pitches. He threw 76 pitches, including 47 strikes.
He was replaced in the fifth by Matt Blackham, who gave up two runs before quickly being replaced by Burch Smith in the sixth.
Game 2 of the six-game opening series between the teams is 7 p.m. Friday.
Contact Aidan Subira at firstname.lastname@example.org