Dilson Herrera knew exactly what pitch he wanted. When he got it, he crushed it.
It was a fastball, 94 mph, right down the middle. He drilled it into left-center field for a two-run double to put the 51s ahead for good in a 13-6 victory over the Albuquerque Isotopes on Thursday night at Cashman Field.
The double ignited a seven-run sixth inning with two outs for Las Vegas (46-40).
“I was waiting fastball 3-0,” Herrera said. “It was a good count to make good contact.”
51s manager Wally Backman said he doesn’t always let hitters swing 3-0, but he wanted to give Herrera a shot. It worked out about as well as possible.
“A lot of times it’s the best pitch you’re going to get because they’re going to lay it in there, and that’s what they did with Dilson,” Backman said. “At this level, you want to see who can do it.”
Herrera’s double was the opening of the floodgates. The 51s trailed 5-4 when he hit it, then Matt Reynolds followed with a double, then Michael Conforto with an RBI single. After a hit by pitch, three more 51s followed with singles.
In total, Las Vegas scored seven runs in the inning.
“I started that inning with two RBIs,” Herrera said. “That was awesome for me.”
Conforto had himself a night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored. He also walked. It was his second Triple-A home run, and he’s batting .333 after being reassigned to Las Vegas.
Fellow outfielder Roger Bernadina had four hits.
Until the sixth-inning explosion, it was a back-and-forth game, starting with three Albuquerque runs in the second inning, which was answered by Las Vegas with two runs in the second and two in the third. Ben Paulsen’s homer in the sixth put the Isotopes back on top 5-4 before the 51s lit up the scoreboard in the bottom half.
The seven-run sixth rescued Las Vegas starter Duane Below (5-7), who was losing when he left the game. He recorded the win after going six innings and allowing five earned runs. He gave up eight hits and a walk and struck out three.
“I thought he pitched good,” Backman said. “He made that one mistake, gave up that homer in the sixth, but other than that I thought Duane, he pitched pretty good.”
Who: Albuquerque Isotopes at Las
When: 5:05 p.m. Friday. Game 2 approximately 30 minutes after Game 1
Where: Cashman Field
Starters: First game: Harrison Musgrave
Saturday: Albuquerque at Las Vegas,
Monday: Triple-A Home Run Derby
Wednesday: Triple-A All-Star Game
51s manager Wally Backman announced right-hander Josh Zeid will be called up from Double-A Binghamton to start the second game of Friday’s doubleheader. Zeid is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in Binghamton and has never pitched for Las Vegas. He has major league experience, pitching parts of two seasons with the Houston Astros in 2013 and 2014.
Justin Emerson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @J15Emerson