Stellar pitching has sparked the 51s’ hot start this season. But their bats led the way to victory Wednesday night at Cashman Field.
Jarrett Hoffpauir, Brian Dopirak and Brett Wallace each homered for Las Vegas, which set season highs for hits (15) and runs in an 8-7 victory over the Fresno Grizzlies.
“This is the Vegas I remember and love so well,” 51s manager Dan Rohn said. “There were a lot of balls squared up by both teams. It was a battle of attrition tonight.”
Las Vegas, which erased two three-run deficits, ran its record to a Pacific Coast League-leading 6-1 to equal its best start since 2006.
The first four 51s batters — Jesus Merchan, Hoffpauir, Wallace and Dopirak — went a combined 9-for-17 with two doubles, three homers, seven RBIs and seven runs scored.
Las Vegas scored five runs in the fifth inning to take a 7-5 lead and didn’t trail again.
Christian Colonel led off the inning with a single and scored on a double by Merchan, who leads the team in batting with a .391 average. Hoffpauir, hitting .360, followed with a two-run homer over the left-field wall to tie the score 5-5.
Wallace, batting .346, singled, and Dopirak, hitting .333, launched a two-run shot to left to put the 51s ahead for good.
Dopirak’s first homer of the season came on a 1-2 pitch from Grizzlies starter Madison Bumgarner, the San Francisco Giants’ No. 2 prospect.
“He made some good pitches on me, but he ended up leaving one over the plate and I caught up to it,” Dopirak said. “It was a great feeling, especially putting the team ahead like that and getting that goose egg out of the (home run) column.”
Bumgarner made his major league debut with the Giants last season at age 20 and entered this year with a 27-5 career mark in the minors and a 1.65 ERA.
But he has struggled in his first two starts this season, allowing four runs on 11 hits in three innings in his first outing and seven runs on 10 hits in four innings against the 51s.
Henry Sosa replaced Bumgarner after Dopirak’s blast and escaped further damage. But Wallace took him deep in the sixth for what turned out to be the winning run.
A left-handed hitter, Wallace hit a towering opposite-field shot over the left-field wall to give Las Vegas an 8-6 lead.
“Our pitching staff’s been so great early … it was our turn to go out there and put up some runs,” Wallace said. “It was good for us to go out there and win a slugfest to show our pitching staff we’re going to keep them in games.”
Closer Rommie Lewis escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning to preserve the 51s’ fourth consecutive victory.
The left-hander got Ryan Rohlinger to ground into a run-scoring double play, then retired pinch hitter Jesus Guzman on a fly ball to right field.
“It gets a little nerve-racking,” Rohn said. “I’d like to see it go 1-2-3, but I’ll take it and get out.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354.LAS VEGAS 8
KEY: Jarrett Hoffpauir, Brian Dopirak and Brett Wallace each homered for the 51s, and Rommie Lewis escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning.
NEXT: Grizzlies (RHP Eric Hacker) at 51s (RHP Lance Broadway), 7:05 p.m. today, Cashman Field, KBAD-AM (920)