It was a night full of battles for Kevin McGowan.
The 51s starter was falling behind hitters consistently and dealt with baserunners all night. But he was able to limit the damage to keep his team in the game as the 51s beat Tacoma 8-6, sweeping the three-game series and pulling back up to .500 on the year.
“Another nice win for us,” manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “I think that’s one of our first sweeps of the year.”
McGowan allowed a leadoff double to begin the game but was able to pitch himself out of that with three straight outs. In the second, he loaded the bases with no outs, thanks in part to a pair of walks, but he was able to minimize Tacoma (64-71), allowing just one run.
“I couldn’t get ahead of anybody but I was able to battle through some pretty tough situations and got out of it for the most part,” McGowan said. “Obviously the only time I got ahead of hitters was my last inning in the sixth and it was a quick 1-2-3 inning but I fell behind everybody. The first batter of each inning reached base but I pretty much minimized the damage for the most part.”
And so his night went.
But though it was messy, it was effective enough on a night where the 51s’ (68-68) offense was steady and consistent.
“He did a nice job keeping us close. I think he didn’t have his best stuff like against Sacramento,” DeFrancesco said. “From (the) bullpen to starter, I think he’s done a nice job. He gave us a chance today. We scored some runs. Six innings is a nice job.”
Tied 1-1, Las Vegas pulled ahead in the third with four runs on an RBI single from Dominic Smith and home runs in the inning from Colton Plaia and Patrick Kivlehan.
For Kivlehan, it was his third home run in as many nights and it was his 12th in the month of August and 19th on the year.
“I can’t say enough, Kivlehan’s having a heck of a month,” DeFrancesco said.
Las Vegas added another pair of runs in the fourth and one in the eighth.
“We keep coming out swinging the bat early,” DeFrancesco said.
On the night, five different hitters — Plaia, Kivlehan, Smith, Jack Reinheimer and Christian Colon — had two hits apiece.
Kivlehan, Plaia and Luis Guillorme all drove in a pair of runs in the win.
The 51s now have one more series left — four games against bottom-feeder Sacramento, which puts the goal of finishing over .500 well in reach.
“It’s right there for us. I think we just have a good against Sacramento. The goal still is to win every series,” DeFrancesco said. “If we do that, we’ll be above .500 which is a great accomplishment for these guys from where we were.”