Las Vegas 51s Make Pennant Push - 8 News NOW

Las Vegas 51s Make Pennant Push

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LAS VEGAS - In recent years, when the calendar turned to August, the Las Vegas 51s were usually out of contention. Not this year.

"We're in the last month now, so we can feel it. It's getting fun," said 51s outfielder Matt den Dekker.

"Fighting for first place is something that … it's a battle," said 51s manager Wally Backman.

This is the 51s' first season as an AAA affiliate with the New York Mets.  For the first time in years, the 51s spent the season near the top of the Pacific Coast League Southern Division. As of Monday, the team was one game behind the division leader.

"This is our first year here, so we take a lot of pride in first impressions," said 51s outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

The team is in contention to win its first division title since 2002 and first PCL championship since 1988. Their success stems from great chemistry.

"Wally does a great job of keeping us loose, but keeping us in line at the same time," den Dekker said.

"I think the guys that have come down from the big leagues have really come down with a good attitude," Backman added. "They fit right in with the guys that might be lifers in Triple-A."

Even though AAA baseball is more about developing players than winning and losing, winning a championship is still winning a championship. It's a lot of fun. The 51s players would love to bring a championship to the City of Las Vegas.

"It's been ten, eleven years, so that'd be really nice for the city and for the fans," den Dekker said. "They bring out a lot of support, so that'd be great for them."

"I've won six of them so far and looking forward to trying to win the seventh," Backman said. "If everything goes right these last twenty four games, and we play the way we're capable of playing, I think we're going to get an opportunity."

The 51's have three games left on this current home stand. Their next three games are against New Orleans. The games start at 7 p.m. at Cashman Field.

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