Shut out of the Pacific Coast League playoffs since 2002 and coming off three consecutive losing seasons, the 51s are making things interesting this year.
With two outs in the 10th inning Sunday in their fourth straight extra-inning game, David Cooper crushed a towering three-run walk-off homer to right field to lift surging Las Vegas to a dramatic 7-5 comeback win over the rival Reno Aces.
"We’ve been doing this all year. Our guys just keep battling," manager Marty Brown said. "What an absolutely clutch hit by David Cooper."
Cooper, last year’s PCL batting champion, went 4-for-4 with a double and three runs scored, capping his monster night with the 51s’ first walk-off homer of the season.
Las Vegas (58-43) has won six of seven games and 10 of 13 to pull within 1½ games of Pacific South Division-leading Sacramento (60-42). It’s the closest the 51s have been to first place since April 7, the third day of the season.
The Pacific North-leading Aces (60-42) rallied for two runs in the ninth to tie it 4-4, then took a 5-4 lead in the 10th when A.J. Pollock drilled an RBI triple to deep center to score Jake Elmore, who singled for his third hit.
Joel Galarraga and Mike McCoy hit consecutive one-out singles in the 10th before Adeiny Hechavarria struck out, setting the stage for Cooper, who took Joe Paterson deep in a left-hander vs. left-hander matchup.
Las Vegas third baseman Mark Sobolewski made a pair of throwing errors that led to two Reno runs, including the tying one in the ninth.
After former 51s player Mike Jacobs belted a solo home run off Jerry Gil to make it 4-3, Taylor Harbin hit a hard grounder to Sobolewski, who fielded it cleanly before short-hopping his throw to first, allowing Harbin to reach safely.
Josh Bell followed with a pinch-hit RBI double to deep center to tie it 4-4.
Sobolewski, promoted to Las Vegas on Saturday from Double-A New Hampshire, made a diving stop of a hot shot by Adam Eaton in the third, inning but threw wide of first, allowing former 51s catcher Ryan Budde to score, giving Reno a 2-1 edge.
Moises Sierra lined a tying RBI single in the fifth before launching a tiebreaking two-run homer to right in the seventh for a 4-2 lead.
Las Vegas loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but the runners were stranded when Ricardo Nanita and Sobolewski each flied to left.
Right-hander Sean O’Sullivan continued to impress for the 51s, allowing one earned run on eight hits in seven innings, with three strikeouts and one walk. The 24-year-old has allowed only six earned runs in 40 innings spanning six starts for Las Vegas, going 4-1 with a 1.35 ERA.
Trevor Bauer allowed two runs on seven hits in five innings for Reno, with four strikeouts and three walks. The Diamondbacks’ top prospect was optioned to the Aces on Wednesday after going 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in four starts for Arizona.
■ NOTES – 51s right-handed pitcher Jesse Chavez was placed on the disabled list after taking a line drive off his lower left leg in the first inning of his start Friday. … Las Vegas left-hander Nate Robertson had to leave his start Saturday in the second inning after taking a line drive off his left arm.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354.LAS VEGAS – 7
RENO – 5
KEY: David Cooper hit a towering three-run walk-off homer to right field with two outs in the 10th inning.
NEXT: Aces (RHP Joe Martinez) at 51s (RHP Shawn Hill), 7:05 p.m. today, KBAD-AM (920)