By Will Hart
The Reno Aces split a six-game series with the Oklahoma City Dodgers, taking three of the six games. Here is a rundown of the action.
July 15: Dodgers defeat Aces 6-3
Win: Josiah Gray (1-1)
Loss: Josh Green (6-2)
Save: Kevin Quackenbush (14)
The Aces fell in the opening game of a series for just the second time this season, losing 6-3 in Oklahoma City to the Dodgers.
Reno took a 1-0 lead in the third inning after Jose Herrera homered over the right field wall, his first with the Aces since being called up from Double-A Amarillo.
Aces starter Josh Green worked through three scoreless innings before getting himself into trouble in the bottom of the fourth inning, allowing three runs, all of which were earned. Green was never able to get back on track, giving up a two-run shot in the fifth inning that pushed the Oklahoma City lead to 5-1.
The Aces answered back in the top of the sixth inning with a two-run home run of their own by Drew Ellis, his 11th of the year, bringing Reno within two runs. The Reno offense could not put anything together after that, and the Dodger bullpen pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings en route to a series-opening win.
July 16: Aces defeat Dodgers 4-3
Win: Stefan Crichton (2-0)
Loss: Kevin Quackenbush (1-3)
Save: Miguel Aguilar (12)
The Aces secured the bounce-back victory in game two of the series, scoring the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning.
Reno starter Tyler Gilbert pitched six innings and only allowed one run, but the Aces bullpen faltered late, ultimately costing Gilbert the win.
The Aces offense struggled against the Oklahoma City pitching staff for the first five innings, but broke through in the sixth, scoring twice and taking a 2-1 lead after first baseman Jake McCarthy homered to right field. Reno tacked on an insurance run in the seventh after a wild pitch by Logan Salow allowed Aces right fielder Nick Heath to cross the plate.
The lead was short-lived, with Oklahoma City tying the game in the bottom of the seventh off Tyler Clippard, who gave up two unearned runs on a home run by Dodgers right fielder Zach Reks.
The Aces bounced back quickly, taking the lead in the top of the ninth against Dodgers closer Kevin Quackenbush. Henry Ramos had the game-winning hit for the Aces, knocking in Nick Heath on a line drive base hit to center field.
Miguel Aguilar continued his stellar season in the bottom of the ninth, retiring the Dodgers in order, including two strikeouts, en route to his 12th save of the year and securing the 4-3 win for the Aces.
July 17: Dodgers defeat Aces 8-7
Win: Aaron Wilkerson (5-3)
Loss: Zach Lee (2-4)
Save: James Pazos (1)
The Dodgers took the third game of the series despite a furious comeback attempt by the Aces.
The struggles continued for Aces right-hander Zach Lee. Lee gave up six runs in five innings of work, pushing his ERA to 7.01 while taking his fourth loss of the season.
Down 6-2 in the top of the sixth inning, the Aces offense came alive, scoring three times to bring the deficit to one run. Henry Ramos crossed the plate on a wild pitch, followed by a two-run single off the bat of Jose Herrera.
The Reno bullpen was unable to keep the Dodger lead to one, allowing a run in each of the sixth and seventh innings.
With the score 8-5 in the eighth inning, the Aces made one last push featuring a two-run shot by Christian Lopes, his fifth of the year. The scoring would stop there, and the Dodgers walked away with the win after the Aces were unable to repeat their ninth-inning heroics from the night before.
July 18: Aces defeat Dodgers 10-3
Win: Humberto Castellanos (4-1)
Loss: Brusdar Graterol (2-2)
The Aces took game four of the series in blowout fashion, scoring seven times in the seventh inning to secure a 10-3 victory.
Reno starter Humberto Castellanos submitted a quality start, lasting six innings and allowing three runs while racking up seven strikeouts.
Dodgers starter Mitch White was lights-out, pitching five innings and allowing just one run while totaling nine strikeouts.
Down 3-2 in the seventh inning, the Reno offense woke up in a big way against Dodgers right-hander Brusdar Graterol. Nick Heath gave the Aces the lead with a two-run home run, his third on the season. Christian Lopes and Michael de la Cruz then hit RBI singles to push the lead to 7-3. The Aces scored twice more thanks to a throwing error by Dodgers third baseman Cristian Santana, breaking the game wide open and capping a seven-run inning that brought the score to 9-3.
The Reno bullpen was brilliant in this game. Tyler Clippard, Kevin McCanna and Brandyn Sittinger each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, giving the Aces a stress-free victory to even the series at two games apiece.
July 19: Aces defeat Dodgers 7-5
Win: Humberto Mejía (4-3)
Loss: Markus Solbach (0-4)
Save: Miguel Aguilar (13)
The Aces managed to hang on for a nail-biting win, despite a four-run ninth inning by the Dodgers that made the game a little too interesting for the Reno ballclub and its fans.
Humberto Mejía had his best start of the year, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning before finally allowing a hit. Mejía’s final statline included seven innings of two-hit ball and just one earned run. The Aces now have a 10-2 record in games that its starting pitcher goes at least six innings.
Reno scored the first run of the ballgame in the fourth inning, then extended their lead to 3-0 in the fifth after Drew Ellis smoked his 12th homer of the season to left-center field, bringing in Ben DeLuzio from second base. The Aces tacked on another run in the seventh, followed by a three-run eighth inning that featured an RBI triple by Jake McCarthy and two run-scoring singles by Jose Herrera and Christian Lopes. The Aces held a 7-1 lead heading into the ninth inning, but nearly let it slip away.
Cameron Gann entered the game to start the ninth, but only recorded one out in a disastrous relief appearance. Gann allowed two walks and gave up two hits that led to four Oklahoma City runs. Aces manager Blake Lalli pulled Gann in favor of lights-out closer Miguel Aguilar, who let two inherited runners cross the plate. Those runs brought the Dodgers within two, but Aguilar ultimately stopped the bleeding, striking out Steven Souza Jr. swinging to close out a 7-5 victory for the Aces.
July 20: Dodgers defeat Aces 10-3
Win: Neftalí Feliz
Loss: Josh Green
The Aces fell 10-3 in the series finale, unable to take the series in Oklahoma City. They will settle for the split, their second in a row.
It was a poor pitching performance by Reno all around, with starter Josh Green only going five innings and allowing four runs, including three home runs.
The Dodgers opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly by Cristian Santana in the bottom of the second, and they would not look back. Oklahoma City tacked on three more in the third inning with home runs by Keibert Ruiz, Sheldon Neuse and Yoshi Tsutsugo to take a 4-0 lead.
The Aces answered back in the top of the fourth inning with a two-run single by left fielder Henry Ramos, but were unable to get much going after that.
The Reno bullpen had a rough night, surrendering six runs in just three innings of relief. Right-hander Jordan Weems allowed a two-run homer in his lone inning of work, and Stefan Chrichton gave up four runs in his only inning of the night.
A bad night from the bullpen proved to be too much to overcome, as the Aces dropped the last night of the series in a game that got away from them late.
What’s Next: The Aces (41-25) will come back to Reno for a six-game set against the Round Rock Express (33-33). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. on Thursday, July 22.
This Is Reno is your source for award-winning independent, online Reno news and events since 2009. We are locally owned and operated.