Train Robbers celebrate home opener with victory over Taos
Train Robber catcher Ryan Lauer tags out a Taos runner at home. Las Vegas won its home opener 17-6 to climb over the .500 mark at 7-6. (Photo by Dave Kavanaugh, Las Vegas Optic)
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
LAS VEGAS — After a delay in starting their home season because of poor field conditions, the Las Vegas Train Robbers finally celebrated their home opener Tuesday with an 18-6 victory over Taos.
While the win — which moved the Train Robbers onto the plus side of the ledger — was nice, manager Casey Dill was more happy to see the strong support from the city.
“It was great to finally play at home. We had some great fans out there. They were really into it and the field played a lot better than I thought it would play and, of course, it’s always nice to get a win.”
The crowd included more than 200 fans, including some from the top echelons of city government.
“It was a great opening night,” Dill said. “We had the mayor and the entire city council here. The mayor has actually come to one of our games in every place we’ve played this year, so it’s good to see support at the highest levels of the community.”
The game itself was pretty much a blowout by the home squad, but it didn’t start out that way. Atsushi Hebisawa, who went six, and Kenny McDowell, 4.2, kept the game scoreless through three. Vegas finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI double by John Hotta, then the Blizzard tallied three in the top of the fifth.
James Martinez singled, Zach D’Andrea and Jordan Chiero doubled and Louis Gonzales singled. But the bottom of the fifth saw the Robbers break things wide open.
They scored four runs on four hits — including a triple by Joey Haskell — and sent McDowall to the showers.
“Kenny McDowall did very well,” said Taos manager Matt Leahy. “There were a few pitches he left up and they capitalized on that.”
And, as has been the case this season, the Blizzard bullpen pretty much imploded.
After Taos added another run in the top of the sixth on an Adam Dimino double and Elliot VanCoaver single, Las Vegas came back with five more in the bottom of the stanza; five more in the seventh — a Matt Grosso triple and doubles by Chris Wilson and Adam Kam were big factors —and three more in the eighth.
The Blizzard got their final runs in the seventh — on a CHiero single, error and RBI single by Gonzales — and ninth — when Brennan May doubled in Bobby McLaughlin.
The normally hot Blizzrd bats cooled off a bit — not that 17 hits could be construed as cool — but with only four extra-base hits and 10 runners left on base, they didn’t convert as well as they have.
The field conditions, Leahy said, contributed a bit to their problems.
“It’s playable, but our first baseman (Chiero_ dislocated his thumb on a ground ball and our center fielder (May) sprained his knee.”
Dill agreed the surface still isn’t perfect, but is just happy to be home.
“It still has a ways to go, but the improvements that have been made are significant, especially given the short amount of time that we’ve had,” he said. “And it will only continue to get better. The grass will continue to grow and they’ll continue to work on it every day for us, so they’re (the city) doing great things for us.”
The teams will be back at it Wednesday, this time at noon in Taos, and Leahy said they’ll be looking for a win.
“Tomorrow we’ll come back, full force, ready to go,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s baseball. We all love playing it. It’s just one of those things where it hasn’t gone our way the past couple of days, but we’re getting to the turn and just have to make the turn in a positive way and once we start coming together, it will be a lot better than it is now. I”m not happy with the play, but, at the end of the day, it’s another day.”
Train Robber starting pitcher Atsushi Hebisawa serves up the game's first pitch Tuesday night. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz, accompanied by longtime Meadow City sports fan Bobby Garcia. (Photo by Dave Kavanaugh, Las Vegas Optic)
Players lined up for the national anthem on opening day at Rodriguez Field in Las Vegas. (Courtesy photo)
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