The Tacoma Rainiers (15-9) collected a series-opening 5-3 victory over the Las Vegas 51s (13-13) on Tuesday night at Cashman Field in Las Vegas.
Tacoma starting pitcher Christian Bergman (5-0) extended his winning streak to five games after tossing six innings, allowing only two runs. He allowed five hits and walked one while striking out four.
Second baseman Mike Freeman (2 for 3, 2 RBI, BB) and right fielder Zach Shank (1 for 4, R, HR, 2 RBI) both chipped in with two RBI to lead the Rainiers offense. Center fielder Leonys Martin (2 for 5, R), designated hitter Dario Pizzano (2 for 4, 2 R, HR, RBI), and third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean (2 for 4, R) all checked in with multiple hits.
Freeman gifted the Rainiers an early 2-0 lead with a pair of RBI singles in the top of the first and third innings. Shank added to the lead with a two-run home run to left center field in the top of the fourth inning – it was Shank’s second home run of the season.
Las Vegas struck for a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to cut Tacoma’s lead in half at 4-2. Back-to-back RBI doubles from Wilmer Flores and Amed Rosario put a dent in the 51s deficit.
Pizzano gave the Rainiers a valuable insurance run with a solo home run to left field in the top of the eighth inning, moving Tacoma’s advantage out to 5-2.
The 51s loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth and drew a hit by pitch to scratch across one final run. However, Dean Kiekhefer escaped the jam with a strikeout and a fly out to center field, locking down the Rainiers 5-3 victory.
Dan Altavilla worked two scoreless innings in relief of Bergman with a pair of strikeouts before giving way to Kiekhefer, who allowed one run on two hits in the ninth inning. Kiekhefer ultimately earned his third save of the year.
Rainiers right-hander Ryan Weber (1-0, 0.48 ERA) and 51s righty Ricky Knapp (1-2, 5.47) square off as Tacma and Las Vegas continue their series on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.