By Will Hart
The Reno Aces just wrapped a holiday weekend series against the Tacoma Rainiers, winning four of the six games. Here’s a look at the highlights.
July 1: Aces defeat Rainiers 8-5
Win: Humberto Mejía
Loss: Ian McKinney
Save: Miguel Aguilar
The Aces jumped out to a 4-0 lead following an RBI double by Drew Ellis and a three-run homer by Stuart Fairchild–his second in as many games–in the top of the first inning against Tacoma starting pitcher Ian McKinney. In the top of the third inning, Juniel Querecuto hit a grand slam to push the lead to 8-0.
Aces pitcher Humberto Mejía was dominant early, pitching four innings before allowing a hit.
The Rainiers began to close the gap in the bottom of the fifth inning after an RBI single by Alen Hanson and a two-run double by Mariners’ No. 2 prospect Jarred Kelenic to make the score 8-3. Tacoma scored again in the 6th and 7th innings, bringing the score to 8-5.
The Aces bullpen shut down the Rainiers offense during the last two innings, and Miguel Aguilar earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close the game out for the Aces win.
July 2: Aces defeat Rainiers 2-1
Win: Josh Green (6-1)
Loss: Darren McCaughan (4-3)
Save: Miguel Aguilar (7)
The Aces took game two of the series against the Rainiers in large part due to a career outing by starting pitcher Josh Green. Green pitched into the eighth inning, allowing just one run and scattering eight hits while racking up five strikeouts.
Offense was hard to come by in this game, as each team remained scoreless through the first four innings.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Aces’ Michael de la Cruz broke the tie by smashing a home run to right-center field, his first of the season. Later in the inning, Seth Beer roped a double to left field, scoring Ildemaro Vargas and pushing the lead to 2-0 off of Tacoma starter Darren McCaughan.
The Rainiers drew closer in the eighth inning, stacking hits together, including a run-scoring single by second baseman Donovan Walton to bring the score to 2-1.
Junior Garcia earned the hold for the Aces, as he came in with two out in the eight and stranded two Tacoma base runners to preserve the one-run lead for Reno.
Miguel Aguilar pitched his second consecutive 1-2-3 ninth inning and earned his seventh save of the year, and the Aces held on for the 2-1 victory.
July 3: Aces defeat Rainiers 8-3
Win: Alex Young
Loss: Robert Dugger
The Aces continued their winning ways on the back of thirteen hits and eight runs en route to an 8-3 victory over the Rainiers in game three of the series.
Jamie Ritchie opened the scoring for Reno with an RBI single in the top of the first inning off Tacoma starting pitcher Robert Dugger. In the second inning, Stuart Fairchild continued his hot streak at the plate, hitting a solo home run–his fifth of the year–to stretch the Reno lead to 2-0.
After a Rainiers solo-home run in the second inning, the Aces broke the game wide open in the top of the third inning. Seth Beer smacked a double to right field to score Ildemaro Vargas, and Henry Ramos went deep to right-center field to make the score 5-1 before Jose Herrera’s RBI single extended the lead to 6-1.
Camden Duzenack’s bat died a hero in the fifth inning, knocking a base hit to left field to bring in Fairchild, adding yet another insurance run for the Aces to make the score 8-1.
That was plenty of offense for Reno, and for the rest of the game, the outcome was never in doubt. Tacoma added two runs in the eighth inning, but the Aces stopped the bleeding and secured their fifth consecutive win.
July 4: Rainers defeat Aces 7-3
Win: Zack Weiss
Loss: Tyler Gilbert
There were no Fourth of July fireworks for the Aces offense in the fourth game of the series, mustering only four hits and three runs as Reno saw their winning streak come to a close.
Aces starter Tyler Gilbert struggled in this one, allowing four earned runs and nine hits through just 4.2 innings.
The Rainiers, on the other hand, used six pitchers in total, none of whom allowed a run until the ninth inning, when the Aces were finally able to string a few base runners together against former big-leaguer Justin Grimm.
Tacoma was in full control for most of the game, as the Reno offense could not put anything together until it was too late, ending their win streak at five games.
July 5: Rainiers defeat Aces 15-7
Win: Logan Verrett
Loss: Zach Lee
There was no shortage of offense in the fifth game of the series, as the teams combined for 22 runs and 30 hits.
The Aces jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after Drew Ellis went deep and Stuart Fairchild knocked a run-scoring base hit through the middle of the infield.
The lead was short-lived, as Aces starter Zach Lee never found his rhythm. Lee allowed eight earned runs through 5.1 innings, pushing his ERA to below-average 5.56. The Reno bullpen did not perform much better. Cameron Gann and Mitchell Osnowitz both had poor outings, allowing three earned runs each.
The Aces slugged four home runs, but the poor performance by the pitching staff proved too much to overcome, and the Aces dropped their second consecutive game following their five-game winning streak.
July 6: Aces defeat Rainiers 6-4
Win: Ryan Weiss
Loss: David Huff
Save: Miguel Aguilar
The Aces returned to their winning ways in this game, slugging three home runs and using five different pitchers to work around a hot Tacoma offense.
Kevin McCanna opened the game for the Aces, pitching three innings of scoreless baseball coupled with five strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 1.80 through his first two appearances for Reno. Ryan Weiss was similarly efficient, pitching the fourth and fifth innings without allowing a run.
Drew Ellis opened the scoring for the Aces with a three-run home run, his ninth of the season. Juniel Querecuto added a solo shot in the fourth inning, and the Aces never gave up the lead in the final game of the series once they jumped out ahead early.
The bottom of the ninth inning made Reno sweat after closer Miguel Aguilar walked the first two batters he faced. Aguilar quickly regained his command, retiring the next two batters before Rainiers shortstop Donovan Walton was caught trying to steal third by Aces catcher Jamie Ritchie to end the game.
The Aces won four out of six in Tacoma, and will look to keep up their winning ways at home when they start a six-game home stand against the Las Vegas Aviators on Thursday, July 8 at 6:35 p.m. at Greater Nevada Field.