The Reno Aces hit four home runs and got six solid innings from Tyler Gilbert in an 11-4 opening day victory at Greater Nevada Field over the visiting Sacramento River Cats.
After three scoreless innings while the players tried to get their feel in the chilly northerly breeze, Camden Duzenack brought the crowd to its feet in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Coming to the plate with the bases loaded and one out, Duzenack promptly deposited Michael Plassmeyer’s (0-1) first offering over the left field wall for a grand slam and a 4-0 lead.
Sacramento manager Dave Brundage was out of the dugout heading toward home plate umpire Jacob Metz before Duzenack even touched home plate to protest the home run call. It was unclear if the ball had cleared the yellow line atop the fence just below the scoreboard or not before caroming back into play.
Sacramento players coming off the field after the inning claimed that the ball went through a hole in the netting before striking the wall below the yellow line.
After the umpires gathered to confer, the home run call stood. Brundage expressed his displeasure at the decision and was summarily tossed, watching the rest of the game from the clubhouse.
The controversial ruling snapped the River Cats out of thinking about the cold and they would strike right back in the top of the fifth. After a two-out single by shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa scored Austin Dean, and a bunt single by Luis Gonzales, David Villar crushed a no-doubter on a 3-1 Gilbert pitch high up on the scoreboard to knot the game at 4-4.
With Sacramento’s Cory Oswalt having replaced Plassmeyer, the Aces would need only two pitches to retake the lead in their half of the fifth. First baseman Matt Davidson stayed red hot, hitting his first of two solo shots on the day to put the Aces back on top 5-4.
Reno continued its onslaught after Buddy Kennedy and Braden Bishop both reached base on throwing errors by Gamboa. Reno manager Gil Velazquez kept the pressure on, sending Braden Bishop on a steal, but Bishop was thrown out.
With Kennedy on third, Stuart Fairchild poked a double past Gamboa to score Kennedy, followed by catcher Grayson Greiner’s double, plating Fairchild for a 7-4 lead.
Tyler Gilbert (1-0) completed a scoreless top of the sixth and would finish his day giving up four earned runs on six hits, to go along with one strikeout.
Taylor Widener and Kevin Ginkel would combine to toss the remaining three innings for the Aces, striking out five combined and giving up just two hits.
The win moves Reno (4-3) into a second-place tie with Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League’s West division. Idle Salt Lake sits atop at 4-2.
The series continues with game two of six Wednesday at 6:05 p.m. with Reno’s Tommy Henry (0-0) getting the start vs. Sacramento’s Sean Hjelle (0-0).
- First baseman Matt Davidson’s pair of solo shots Tuesday push him into the PCL lead with five round trippers.
- Cam Duzenack’s grand slam was his third home run of the year, good for a tie for second in the PCL with six others.
- Duzenack’s .435 batting average (10-for-23) places him second in the PCL behind Round Rock’s Leody Tavares’ scorching 14-for-26 (.538).
- Left fielder Stuart Fairchild hit his second home run of the season in the bottom of the seventh.
- C Grayson Greiner went 3-for-5 with an RBI, raising his average to .500 in 14 plate appearances in 2022.
Michael Smyth is a writer and photographer who moved to Reno from the Bay Area in 2007. Michael retired from a corporate road-warrior sales career in 2017 where he wrote freelance small-venue music reviews on the side to keep his sanity on the road. When he isn’t covering a concert or sporting event he might be found concocting a salsa recipe, throwing barbless flies in search of trout, or recapturing the skip-and-stop wedge shot of his youth.