The El Paso Chihuahuas took their fans on a roller coaster ride against the Las Vegas 51s on Sunday, but were able to pull off an 8-7 win at the very last moment.
The walk-off victory was the Dogs’ 13th consecutive home game win and kept El Paso comfortably atop the PCL Pacific Southern Division standings.
The Chihuahuas started the game like every other in recent weeks: just putting hits together and putting runs on the board early and consistently. Catcher Raffy Lopez doubled in Luis Urias in the first inning. First baseman Brett Nicholas followed with a single to center field that scored Lopez, El Paso 2-0.
Las Vegas came back in the second inning and scored a run off of starter Colin Rea (5.77 ERA), who went only three innings before being pulled, El Paso 2-1.
The Chihuahuas scored a couple of insurance runs in the second and third innings, and silenced the 51s until the sixth inning, El Paso 4-1. Zach Borenstein hit an RBI double off of reliever Jerry Keel in the sixth, El Paso 4-2.
The Dogs answered by putting another two on the board in the sixth, via consecutive RBI doubles by Dusty Coleman and Javy Guerra, El Paso 6-2.
It was almost a sure thing at that point – four insurance runs are not easy to overcome. The seventh inning came and the 51s figured it out. A two-run homer by Patrick Kivlehan followed by a pinch-hit RBI single by Matt Den Dekker made it a game again, El Paso 6-5.
When the 51s came up in the eighth, the Dogs just needed to squeeze out a few more outs to keep their winning streak going. Las Vegas’s right fielder Bryce Brentz had other ideas though and sent a fastball even faster over the center field wall, Las Vegas 7-6.
The seemingly shocked Chihuahuas went down 1-2-3 in the eighth and the ninth inning started out the same.
With two outs and a full count, El Paso’s last hope Forrestt Allday smacked a grounder to right field for a single as the crowd cheered. Urias followed with a liner to right center field that sounded like a home run but missed going over the wall by a few feet – Urias hustled a triple out of it and more importantly, tied the game at 7.
Lopez was intentionally walked and arrived at second base on defensive indifference a few pitches to Ty France.
Still with two outs, France nailed a liner to left center that gave the 51s no chance to play it. The flight was perfect: soaring past the Vegas outfielders even though they were playing deep and hitting the base of the wall below the Green Seats, El Paso 8-7.
The winning pitcher was Kyle McGrath (6-2) and the losing pitcher was Chris Beck (1-1).
Box Score | Team Records: Las Vegas (61-65), El Paso (73-52)
Next Game: Tuesday, 6:35 pm at Southwest University Park. Albuquerque LHP Brett Oberholtzer (6-9, 5.79) vs. El Paso RHP Walker Lockett (5-9, 4.70). The game will air on 600 ESPN El Paso and www.epchihuahuas.com.
Words by Larry Monarrez, El Paso Herald-Post
Pics by ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post
Larry Monarrez is a local journalist and longtime El Pasoan. Larry arrived in El Paso after proudly serving as an infantryman in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and earned a communication degree from the University of Texas El Paso.
At UTEP, Larry worked as a reporter and eventually became the editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, The Prospector.
Larry also worked as a news assistant, general assignments reporter and copy editor at the El Paso Times before working in public relations at an area school district.
He also spent a few years at KDBC 4 News as the assignments editor, where his most memorable experience was keeping the news crews operational during times of crisis like the storms of 2006 that flooded the station’s building.