Roger Bernadina’s sacrifice fly in the 11th inning lifted the Albuquerque Isotopes to a 12-11 victory over the visiting Las Vegas 51s. The Isotopes clinched a series victory on the strength of their pinch hitters.
Pinch hitter Johnny Monell hit a two-run double in the sixth inning, Griff Erickson blasted a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the eighth and Walter Ibarra had a two-out RBI single in the ninth. Bernadina, pinch hitting as the last man on the bench, drove in the game-winning run with a sac-fly to deep left field in the 11th.
“Outstanding job by the bench, obviously,” manager Damon Berryhill said. “He really did (hit the sac-fly far), that ball was up against the wall. It was almost a game-winning grand slam.”
Cory Vaughn’s one-out, solo home run in the ninth inning snapped a 10-10 tie for Las Vegas (81-62). Albuquerque (61-80) then got Ibarra’s game-tying RBI single.
The game went to the 11th, where the Isotopes escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the top of the frame as Red Patterson struck out Andrew Brown and Brandon Allen. In the bottom of the frame, Jamie Romak walked, Alex Guerrero was hit by a pitch and Carlos Triunfel was intentionally walked with one out.
All of that set up Bernadina, who lofted a 2-1 pitch deep to left field. Romak easily beat the throw home to give Albuquerque the victory.
The only question now is who is left standing for the season finale. Berryhill said not to worry on the pitching side despite using six pitchers Sunday.
“We didn’t really burn anybody too bad today,” Berryhill said. “Red may be down. (Josh) Ravin probably won’t pitch since he came off the DL (on Sunday).”
The Isotopes trailed 8-0 going into their half of the sixth inning when they strung together five straight hits and ended up scoring six runs. The 51s got two in the eighth to make it 10-6, only to see Albuquerque score four in the bottom of the frame to tie it up.
Alex Guerrero led off that frame with a home run. Mike Baxter doubled and scored on Carlos Triunfel’s single through the left side, followed by Erickson hammering the first pitch he saw to left field.
“We’ve been pretty resilient,” said Baxter, who finished the game 4-for-5 with three runs and an RBI. “It was a pretty sloppy game, pretty bad defense in the middle. (But) the bats came through late in the game.”
The most interesting question heading into Monday’s season finale is which of the Isotopes will get called up by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Berryhill will not have any of those players available for his last game but he still have enough to fill out the lineup.
“They are all leaving before the game,” he said. “Delvis (Morales) is here, coming off a leg injury. We can activate him. We’re pretty well covered bullpen wise. We’re still sitting there with two catchers, three outfielders and (four) infielders. Body-wise we should be OK.”
Reliever Yimi Garcia seems like the best bet to recalled from Albuquerque’s beleaguered pitching staff. Starter Matt Magill did himself no favors Sunday by giving up five runs on four hits and three walks in 1.1 innings.
On the hitting side of things, outfielder Joc Pederson and second baseman Guerrero were both mentioned by Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti as heading north at the end of the Triple-A season. They could be joined by catcher Tim Federowicz and infielder Carlos Triunfel, the only other Isotopes position players on the 40-man roster.
Albuquerque and Las Vegas will wrap up the regular season Monday at 1:35 p.m. Right-hander Zach Lee (7-12, 5.54 ERA) will start for the Isotopes against 51s right-hander Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 4.67) in a battle of two prospects whose seasons did not turn out like they had hoped.