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Josh Rodriguez’s pinch-hit homer gives 51s first victory

Updated April 8, 2017 - 10:32 am

Remaining sharp while sitting on the bench for nine innings can be a hard thing to do.

But Friday, Josh Rodriguez was the hero for the 51s after doing just that. Rodriguez delivered with a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning to propel Las Vegas to its first win of the season.

The 51s beat El Paso 4-2 at Southwest University Park in El Paso, Texas, with Rodriguez’s home run coming right after the 51s had surrendered a lead.

Rodriguez now has two hits in two at-bats off the bench this season.

“He’s always been a professional hitter. I had him before in (Double-A) Binghamton for two years, and that’s something that he’s always been able to do,” 51s manager Pedro Lopez said. “He gives you quality at-bats … off the bench, whether it’s righty against righty or righty against lefty. He’ll always give you a quality at bat.”

The 51s (1-1) were five outs from a victory earlier, but wound up needing Rodriguez’s heroics after Erik Goeddel gave up the tying run in the eighth inning to the Chihuahuas (1-1).

With one out in the eighth, Jamie Romak singled off Goeddel, then advanced two bases on a wild pitch and balk. He scored on Rafael Ortega’s single to right.

Before that, starter Ricky Knapp had been on the hook for a win after giving up one run on seven hits in six innings, good for a quality start.

“Everything started with Ricky Knapp,” Lopez said. “I thought he did a tremendous job working ahead and mixing his pitches. (He) also did a really good job pitching inside to hitters, both sides of the plate. And I think that got everything going.”

The 51s offense got on the board in the fourth inning with Travis Taijeron’s first home run of the season.

That lead was quickly erased with a Diego Goris double in the bottom of the inning.

“There were numerous balls that were hit hard just right at people,” Lopez said. “I knew the guys were swinging the bats well, and we just had to hold them tight and hold it close.”

Gavin Cecchini, in particular, had two potential hits taken away.

But the 51s scored one more run in the sixth, thanks to a throwing error by Romak, allowing Dominic Smith to score. And aside from Goeddel giving up the lead, they had solid performances from Dave Roseboom and Chasen Bradford.

Roseboom threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his Triple-A debut, while Bradford locked down the game with a scoreless frame in the ninth, picking up the save.

It’s a role Bradford will inherit after closer Paul Sewald was called up Friday by the New York Mets.

It’s the first call-up for Sewald, a Las Vegas native who was drafted in the 10th round in 2012 and has consistently pitched well as he worked his way up the Mets’ minor league system. Ty Kelly was designated for assignment to make room for Sewald on the 40-man roster.

“It was a really special moment,” Lopez said. “Him and I go way back. He pitched (for) me, and I know what kind of kid he is and all the hard work he’s put in.”

Up next

Who: 51s at El Paso

When: 6:05 p.m. Saturday

Where: Southwest University Park

Starters: Donovan Hand (0-0, 0.00 ERA), 51s, vs. Tyrell Jenkins (0-0, 0.00)

Next five

Sunday: Las Vegas at El Paso, 12:05 p.m.

Monday: Las Vegas at El Paso, 10:05 a.m.

Tuesday: Fresno at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.

Wednesday: Fresno at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.

Thursday: Fresno at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m.


The 51s changed the order of their rotation, moving Donovan Hand and Sean Gilmartin up a day and moving Wilfredo Boscan to the back end of the rotation. Boscan now will start Monday instead of Saturday. 

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

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