weather icon Clear

Las Vegas Aviators proving to be advantageous group

In the words of Aviators outfielder Mark Payton, “It’s hard to get 27 outs. No matter the score, no matter the inning.”

This season the come-from-behind victory has been the team’s bread and butter, at least in the early going. Seventeen of their 26 wins have been comeback victories. Entering Friday’s game vs. the Albuquerque Isotopes, they have scored 48 runs in the eighth inning or later.

“I think (as) men, they never give anything away — no matter what the score is, no matter what the inning is,” first-year Aviators manager Fran Riordan said. “There is no lead that we don’t think we can’t come back from.

“Putting up so many runs in the eighth inning is a testament to that and what these guys think they can do and actually go out and accomplish it.”

The trend started on opening day, when the Aviators had to overcome a one-run deficit on two separate occasions before winning 9-8 at El Paso.

From there, the floodgates opened.

At one point, the Aviators reeled off five consecutive come-from-behind wins and finished April with 12 comeback victories.

Those 17 wins after trailing at one point have come against six teams. And in all six games against the Sacramento River Cats have been comeback wins.

“That was an interesting series because those three games were late, come-from-behind wins and Sacramento has a lot of big arms in that bullpen,” Riordan said. “It was one of those series where everything clicked for us, we had really good at-bats, competitive at-bats — everyone just kind of moved the needle.”

It doesn’t seem to matter who the team plays, or even where the team plays. Of the 17 come-from-behind wins, 10 were in the new Las Vegas Ballpark. However, those even late road wins present a different set of challenges.

“I think everyone is more comfortable playing at home in front of your own fans, especially a beautiful setting like this where the fans support to the team,” Riordan said. “So you go on the road and a little bit of a hostile environment — you always have the home team hitting last so they have that last opportunity to seal the deal.”

Despite the staggering numbers, Las Vegas has one walkoff win on the season and that came earlier this month.

“It took us 34 games to get that first walkoff win in front of our own fans and it was obviously the first one here in Las Vegas Ballpark,” Riordan said. “Any walkoff win is special, but when it’s the first in a new stadium it meant a little bit more.”

Added Payton: “Anytime you get to go mob somebody on the field is a good day and anytime you win it’s a good day.”

The lone walkoff hit came from 23-year-old shortstop Jorge Mateo, who is first on the team in hits ( 62 through Wednesday) and RBIs (39).

“He’s off to a great start this year and he’s a great player,” Payton said. “He’s probably the best athlete I’ve ever been around on a baseball field.

“He’s a tremendous baseball player so he’s going to continue having success here and have success when he gets the chance to do it in the big leagues as well.”

Regardless of where the team plays or who is getting the key hit, one thing stands out for Riordan.

“Just having that confidence that we can come back at any time (is crucial),” he said.

Contact Terrel Emerson at temerson@reviewjournal.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Aviators hit three HRs, beat Fresno

Franklin Barreto, Seth Brown and Corban Joseph each cracked two-run homers Tuesday night, leading the Aviators to an 11-5 Pacific Coast League victory over the Fresno Grizzlies before 4,692 at Chukchansi Park.

Rays owner says sharing season with Montreal is best option

Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week the Rays have “broad permission to explore what’s available.” Tampa Bay is averaging 14,546 fans a game, lowest in the American League.

Las Vegas native Rickard savors hometown stop with River Cats

After a whirlwind of events, outfielder Joey Rickard was released by the Baltimore Orioles organization and claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants nearly a week later.

Nevada falls to Florida in national tournament

Mississippi commit Josh Mallitz struck out 11 in five innings Tuesday to lead Team Florida to a 4-1 win over Nevada in the National High School Baseball Championship.

Aviators top River Cats on Pride Night at Las Vegas Ballpark

Dustin Fowler and Corban Joseph each drove in three runs and the Aviators pounded out 20 hits in a 15-6 Pacific Coast League victory over the Sacramento River Cats on Monday night before 8,914 at Las Vegas Ballpark.

Sacramento continues winning ways over Las Vegas Aviators

Chris Shaw’s two-run single in the eighth-inning snapped a 2-2 tie Sunday as the Sacramento River Cats topped the Aviators 4-3 in a Pacific Coast League game before 7,863 at the Las Vegas Ballpark.