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Train Robbers escape Blizzard

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Ben Runyon got into a bases-loaded jam Monday night at Rodriguez Park.

Then he got himself out of it.

The Las Vegas Train Robbers reliever avoided disaster by throwing back-to-back strikeouts, stranding three Taos Blizzard baserunners and securing a 10-7 win.

“Every win counts from here on out,” Las Vegas manager Casey Dill told his club afterward. “We need to play better than we did tonight. I want a championship.”

The too-close-for-comfort finish aside, Las Vegas (35-23 as of Tuesday morning) has put itself in position to challenge for a Pecos League title in its inaugural season. In recent days, the team has leapfrogged Trinidad for first place in the North Division and it’s demonstrated it can play with the better teams in the league.

On Monday, the Robbers scored in five of the first six frames to grab a 10-4 lead that held until the top of the eighth inning.

That’s when Taos, getting a two-run double from Eric McGee, rallied with three runs to make it a close one again.

After getting Las Vegas to strand a couple base runners in the bottom of the inning, Taos put a scare into the home team in its final at-bat.

The Blizzard loaded the bases on Runyon with one out in the top of the ninth.

Then Runyon battled back from a 3-1 pitch count to strike out Ruben Rijkhof for the second out. Cody Coffman struck out on four pitches to end the game. Both Rijkhof and Coffman were one swing of the bat away from potentially winning the contest.

Andrew Lopez had three hits, including a home run and a double, for Las Vegas.

In their previous game, a home tilt Sunday against White Sands, the Robbers lost 7-5 after allowing three runs in the eighth to break open a 4-4 deadlock.

Will Walsh, continuing his recent hot streak, homered for Las Vegas, and Lopez also hit a home run in the losing cause.

The Robbers host the Blizzard through Thursday. They’re slated to play a home-and-home series with the Raton Osos Friday through Sunday. Tickets are $6 general admission, $3 children.

The regular season wraps up July 24.