Elliot Soto has never hit more than two home runs in a season as a professional baseball player. In Monday's series finale against the Salt Lake Bees he equaled that total in one afternoon in the Isotopes 9-4 victory.
"Definitely haven't done it in pro ball before," Soto said. "I can't remember a time before that."
Soto hit his first in the sixth inning on the first pitch he saw, a two run blast to left-center field that scored Dom Nunez, who had walked and pushed the scored to 7-0 in favor of the 'Topes. His second came two innings later in the bottom of the eighth, and he hit it so hard it bounced off the scoreboard. It was also a two-run shot, and pushed the lead to 9-3.
He changed his walk-up music before the game from Bone Thugs N Harmony to El Rey, something he joked was responsible for his newfound power.
Chi Chi Gonzalez made his first start of the year for the Isotopes and was stellar, pitching seven innings, giving up three hits, one run, one walk and eight strikeouts. The one run he did gave up came in his final inning of work.
"Outstanding, he pitched to contact, pounded the strike zone, was in complete control, his tempo was great," Isotopes manger Glenallen Hill said of his performance. "He was nice and relaxed before the game, first time I have really seen him in live action, it's my job to check them out and see how they get prepared, he was very loose and very talkative, I think I may have seen him skipping."
Albuquerque opened the scoring in the second inning on a Brian Mundell double that brought Noel Cuevas around to score and gave the 'Topes a 1-0 lead.
The Isotopes broke the game open in the fourth inning, as the first six batters of the inning reached base safely. Another Mundell double opened the flood gates, scoring Cuevas and Drew Weeks and pushing the lead to 3-0. Dom Nunez followed with a home run to right field to increase the lead to 5-0. Soto and Peter Mooney both reached to put runners on the corners before Sam Hilliard struck out looking for the first out of the inning. Mooney and Soto would be stranded, but the damage was done.
The Bees would get on the board in the seventh thanks to a solo shot from Brennon Lund, before scoring two more in the top of the eighth off of reliever Mitch Horacek. Nelson Gonzalez would finish the game off in front of an announced crowd of 3,447.
Now the Isotopes take on their first road trip of the year, with stops in Reno and Tacoma upcoming on a seven game road trip. The team will return to Isotopes Park on Tuesday, April 16 at 6:35 p.m., kicking off a seven game homestand.
Cameron Goeldner is a senior reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer, women’s basketball, softball and the Albuquerque Isotopes, but also contributes content for all other sports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @goeldfinger.