Defense has been the 51s’ downfall early this season, but it saved them Friday in the 27th home opener for Las Vegas’ Triple-A franchise.
With the 51s clinging to a 3-2 lead with a Colorado Springs runner on third base and two outs in the ninth inning, Las Vegas right fielder Jason Lane made a diving catch of Matt Murton’s sinking liner to preserve the victory in front of a crowd of 6,214.
In their first eight games the 51s have 14 errors, with at least one in each game. Lane’s grab took the sting out of that statistic, if only for a night.
“I got a good jump on it, and it was nice to be able to make that play and help the team win,” said Lane, who also scored the tying run in Las Vegas’ three-run sixth. “We had kind of a tough road trip, so it was nice to get off to a good start (at home) and win a close game like that. Hopefully we can keep that going.”
After losing their first five games in their first season as the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, the 51s (2-6) have won two of their last three. Las Vegas has won eight of its last nine home openers.
“It’s a lot of fun to win your home opener,” said Las Vegas left fielder Russ Adams, whose line single in the sixth gave the 51s a 3-2 lead. “We had a really good crowd tonight. They were into the game, and for a lot of us guys here, that’s something we’re not used to, being where we’ve been (in Syracuse, N.Y.) the last couple of years.”
The 51s scored three runs in the sixth to erase a 2-0 deficit. Randy Ruiz, batting a team-best .400 (12-for-30), launched a leadoff homer to left field.
Lane reached base on an error by third baseman Christian Colonel, and Brett Harper drilled a tying RBI double off the top of the left-field wall, setting the stage for Adams.
“I was fortunate to be able to get one over the shortstop’s head for the go-ahead run, and our pitching staff did a good job keeping them where they were,” Adams said.
51s right-hander Bryan Bullington relieved starter Brad Mills with two runners on in the sixth and struck out Edwin Bellorin to keep it a 2-0 game.
Bullington struck out four in 1 2/3 innings before being lifted for Jonah Bayliss, who escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth. Closer Jeremy Accardo pitched the ninth for his second save.
Colorado Springs second baseman Eric Young Jr. blooped a one-out single off Accardo, stole second and took third on a throwing error by 51s catcher J.P. Arencibia.
Accardo got Mike McCoy to ground out to third for the second out, then walked Carlos Gonzalez before Lane preserved the victory.
Colorado Springs (5-3) scored on Dan Ortmeier’s RBI single in the first, and Carlos Gonzalez led off the third with a line-drive homer over the left-field wall to make it 2-0.LAS VEGAS — 3 COLORADO SPRINGS — 2
KEY: The 51s scored all of their runs in the sixth inning, and right fielder Jason Lane made a diving catch with two outs in the ninth to preserve the victory.
NEXT: Sky Sox at 51s, 7:05 p.m. today, Cashman Field, KBAD-AM (920)