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Aviators Top 10: Schwindel’s bat catches fire

1. Man on fire

Heading into Saturday night’s game against Reno, the Aviators’ Frank Schwindel (who was the Kansas City Royals’ Opening Day first baseman in 2019) had 10 hits in his last 17 at-bats with five homers — including HRs in four consecutive games — and eight RBIs to raise his batting average to a team-leading .322

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2. Another man on fire

Catcher Austin Allen went 9-for-17 with three homers and five RBIs to help the Aviators win four of six at Albuquerque in a series that concluded Tuesday. He added a single and sacrifice fly in three at-bats in Thursday’s 7-5 home loss to Reno before going 0-for-3 with a walk in an 8-3 win Friday.

3. Seems appropriate

On the first $2 Beer Night of the season at Las Vegas Ballpark, Reno first baseman Seth Beer went 2-for-4 with a double, homer and two RBIs in the visitors’ 7-5 victory Thursday.

4. Chips off blocks

Both lineups during Thursday’s Aviators-Aces game featured a son of a former major leaguer. Las Vegas’ Francisco Pena, son of five-time All-Star catcher Tony Pena, went 1-for-4 with an RBI. Daulton Varsho, who hit a two-run homer for Reno, is the son of former outfielder Gary Varsho and is named for ex-Phillies catcher Darren Daulton, one of his father’s former teammates.

5. Crowded house

The Aviators drew 8,021 and 9,568 in their first two games at Las Vegas Ballpark since COVID spectator limitations were lifted. With record heat expected for much of the remaining homestand — and barring the advent of Asbestos Shoes Night — the home club may be hard-pressed to maintain that pace.

6. No place like the road

The Aviators won eight of 12 games on the recent road trip to Sacramento and Albuquerque and were anticipating building on that success during a season-long 12-game homestand that began Thursday — only to be promptly beaten 7-5 by Reno.

7. No place like the road, part 2

Aviators in-house reporter Matt Jacob threw even more water on the no place like home adage with this: Though Las Vegas went 39-31 in its inaugural season at Las Vegas Ballpark in 2019, the Aviators were better away from it, posting a 44-26 record en route to winning a PCL division title.

8. Night game … or Knights game?

At various intervals during Thursday night’s game it might have sounded to the uninitiated that Aviators fans had adopted the fictional New York Knights from “The Natural” movie as their new favorite team. Each time the Golden Knights scored a goal in their playoff series-clinching victory over Colorado, Las Vegas baseball fans cheered “Let’s Go Knights!”

9. Blast from the point

In keeping with the hockey theme Thursday, the Aviators’ Frank Schwindel ripped a 440-foot slap shot that appeared to rip through the protective netting beyond the left-field wall and smash into the facade of City National Arena, the Golden Knights’ practice facility, before caroming back onto the field for an impressive home run.

10. Aviators quick quiz

Can you name the Las Vegas Triple-A franchise’s all-time major league affiliations and their durations? (Answer: San Diego Padres, 18 seasons; Los Angeles Dodgers, eight seasons; Toronto Blue Jays, four seasons; New York Mets, six seasons; Oakland Athletics, two seasons.

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