The Albuquerque Isotopes won their first home series against the Tacoma Rainiers 4-2in Albuquerque that stretched from Tuesday, April 12 to Sunday, April 17. Having now played both the Rainiers and Oklahoma City, Albuquerque is now 5-7 in their young season.

The Isotopes lost the first game of the series on Tuesday. The loss was especially heartbreaking given the Isotopes’ 8-1 lead over the Rainiers for nearly half the game.



The Rainiers were the first team to put a run on the scoreboard during the top of the second inning. The Isotopes were able to respond in the third inning, though, with two runs of their own.

The Rainiers went scoreless in the fourth with the Isotopes seizing the opportunity to expand their lead. Infielder D.J. Peterson was able to grab a two-run home run to start it off. Then, outfielder Scott Shelber hit a grand slam putting the Isotopes at an 8-1 lead.

But the fifth inning brought with it colder weather, something that would take a toll on the Isotopes’ stellar gameplay up to this point.

“It dropped like 25 degrees and the guys just kind of lost the feel for the baseball a little,” Shebler said after the game.

The Rainiers took advantage and scored four runs in the fifth. The Isotopes were able to get a home run in the bottom of the inning which helped keep their lead 9-5, but solid play from the Rainiers and a lack of runs from the Isotopes only helped seal their fate.

The Rainiers brought in four runs during the sixth and ninth innings. After the ninth inning, the game was tied 9-9, forcing the game into extra innings.

The Rainiers brought in one more run, and the Isotopes failed to bring in any. The Isotopes had managed to blow an 8-1 lead and lost 10-9.

Shebler said the game would serve as a lesson to the team and would help them through the rest of the series against Tacoma and the rest of the season.

“I guess if it’s going to happen then it’s probably better to happen early and learn that lesson early and kind of go from there than halfway through the season and let it snowball,” Shebler said.

Perhaps the early loss did help because the Isotopes went on to win the next three games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, the Isotopes got an early lead again and managed to hold onto it this time, winning the game 7-6. Left fielder Ryan Vilade led Albuquerque offensively with two runs and one run batted in with four at-bats.

The Isotopes then won their third game of their series against the Tacoma Rainiers Thursday 11-8.

Carlos Perez, catcher for the Isotopes, started the game off strong by hitting a three-run home run in the first inning, putting the Isotopes up 3-0.

In the second inning, the Rainiers brought in a run but the Isotopes did not lose momentum. Colton Welker, who played third base for the first time this season, hit a grand slam in the bottom of the inning that put the Isotopes up 7-1.

After the game, Welker said his grand slam against the Rainiers felt good and that preparation was the key.

“I had a good approach against (Rainiers pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon), and that was my second time seeing him so I dialed in on what he was throwing and I got what I wanted to hit and didn’t miss it,” Welker said.

Welker used a strategy during the game that he acquired through the hitting coaches, learning the sequences and learning the different counts.

“There is a lot that goes into it behind the scenes that probably not a lot of people don’t really realize, that is just naked-eye watching the game,” Welker said.

Both teams scored a run in the third inning. First baseman Elehuris Montero, who’s been crushing the ball this season, hit a home run to put the Isotopes up 9-2 in the bottom of the fourth. The Rainiers scored three runs in the sixth inning and another in the eighth, bringing the game back to within three runs. The Isotopes extended their lead, though, with two runs in the bottom of the eighth. Tacoma added one more home run in the ninth inning before the game ended.

Warren Schaeffer, manager for the Isotopes, noticed that there was a change of how the team played from Tuesday's game to Thursday’s game and that the main difference was improved defense.

“Every night is different with this game … There are different players every game,” Schaeffer said.

Friday night’s game was far more low-scoring than the previous three, with a final score of 5-2 in favor of the Isotopes. Albuquerque’s defense held strong and prevented the Rainiers from scoring until the top of the sixth.

Saturday was a 10-3 blowout win for the Isotopes. Ryan Feltner started for the first time since the Oklahoma City series. The Isotopes had a big first inning with four runs while the Rainiers struggled offensively, only putting up runs in two innings.

The Isotopes got handed their second loss of the series on Sunday, mostly due to a massive first inning for Tacoma where they scored nine runs. The Isotopes climbed back, helped by a six run in the third inning, but they ended up losing 12-11. Notably, Albuquerque used eight different pitchers in their last game against Tacoma.

The Isotopes will travel to Round Rock, Texas from Tuesday, April 19 to Saturday, April 23 for their series against the Express.

Mackenzie Schwartz is the photo editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at photoeditor@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @mackenzid5