Two teams going in the opposite direction collide in the first round of the Pacific Coast League playoffs, starting Wednesday night at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
Salt Lake faces Las Vegas in the best-of-five series.
The Bees went only 4-12 in their last 16 games, including a 17-7 loss to Reno on Monday afternoon in the regular-season finale. The 51s won 16 of their final 23 games and finished with the second-best record in the league.
Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson has named right-hander Matt Shoemaker as his starting pitcher for Game 1 against Las Vegas.
"We're going to be ready to play," Johnson promised.
Shoemaker is 11-13 this season, after a 3-8 start in April and May. In five starts since Aug. 9, he is 3-0 with two no-decisions.
"I'm just excited," Shoemaker said. "I get the opportunity to go out and give our team a chance to win the first playoff game. From there, hopefully, we can win a series and a championship."
In three starts against Las Vegas this season, Shoemaker is 1-0 with two no-decisions. He allowed 23 hits but only five runs in 202â3 innings.
"They are a good team," Shoemaker said. "I just have to stay focused on doing what I need to do and stay focused on my pitches.
After going 6-10 against Las Vegas during the season, can the Bees challenge the 51s, especially after stumbling down the stretch?
"We're playing OK right now," Shoemaker said. "But we're a team that can play well all the time. We're just in a little slump right now, which can happen. But I definitely think we'll work through it."
In the lopsided loss to Reno, the Bees dropped their seventh straight home game.
Starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis allowed five runs and six hits in only three innings, including three doubles and a homer during the Aces' four-run second.
Brad Snyder blasted a pair of home runs for Reno, which outscored Salt Lake 40-23 during a season-ending four-game sweep.
For the Bees, Luis Rodriguez' two-run homer in the third tied the game, 5-5. But the Aces outscored Salt Lake over the final six innings, 12-2.
The top four hitters in Reno's batting order Chris Owings, Mike Jacobs, Matt Davidson and Snyder went a combined 13 for 21 with 13 RBIs.
Las Vegas 51s at Salt Lake Bees
P Pacific Coast League playoffs
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
51s 17, Bees 7
R Reno pounds out 18 hits and rolls to a 17-7 win over Salt Lake in the final game of the regular season.
• Bees' starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis allows five runs on six hits in three innings of work.
• A crowd of 9,008 raises the Bees' season attendance to 531,221 the highest total since 1998.