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Entertaining season may be on deck for Reno Aces

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Reno Aces Series Recap vs. Sacramento River Cats, April 2-7

If the opening homestand is any indication, the Reno Aces will treat northern Nevada to one entertaining season.

The Arizona Diamondbacks Triple-A affiliate split their first six games at Greater Nevada Field 3-3 with the Sacramento River Cats (affiliate of the San Francisco Giants) in a series that had it all: sun, heat, bears, gems, snow and a $25 million man.

Aces pitcher Chris Rodriguez throws a pitch during Reno Aces Opening Day at Greater Nevada Field. The Reno Aces dropped a 12-inning decision 9-8 to the Sacramento River Cats on April 2, 2024 (Michael Smyth / This is Reno)

April 2: Sacramento 9 – Reno 8 (12 innings)

W: Donovan Walton (1-0) L: Chris Rodriguez (0-1)
First pitch: 2:05 p.m. PST | Attendance: 6,015 | Time: 3:58

On as pretty as an opening day as you could ask for at the beginning of April, the Aces and, for that matter, the River Cats often resembled the Bad News Bears in a game that had 28 hits, 29 strikeouts, five home runs, two walks, three pitch-clock violations, two wild pitches, and 29 runners left on base.

The see-saw affair saw Reno holding a 6-4 lead headed into the eighth inning, but Sacramento catcher Jakson Reetz blasted an Austin Pope slider over the wall for his second homer of the game. The two-run blast knotted the game at 6-6.

The Aces had the winning runs thrown out at home plate in both the 11th and 12th innings on clumsy base-running mistakes, sending the largest opening day crowd since 2016 home in bewilderment.

Notes

Kyle Garlick: 2-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Kevin Newman: 2-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 R

Transactions

4/1/24Arizona Diamondbacks recalled OF Jorge Barrosa from Reno Aces.
C Jose Herrara looks suspiciously back at the camera during Reno Aces Opening Day at Greater Nevada Field. The Reno Aces dropped a 12-inning decision 9-8 to the Sacramento River Cats on April 2, 2024 (Michael Smyth / This is Reno)

April 3: Sacramento 12 – Reno 7

W: Tommy Romero (1-0, 1.29 ERA) L: Slade Cecconi (1-1, 6.00 ERA)
S: Spencer Bivens (1)
First pitch: 2:07 p.m. PST | Attendance: 3,051 | Time: 2:46

Sacramento’s David Villar and Luis Matos combined for three home runs and seven RBIs as the River Cats took game two of the series, evening Reno’s record to 2-2.

Newcomer Andrés Chaparro crushed a two-run triple off the center field wall in the bottom of the first and would be driven in by Tristan English to give the Aces their only lead of the game at 3-2.

But the River Cats’ attack, with 16 hits and six stolen bases, was just too much as the warmth of Tuesday’s opener was replaced with near-freezing temps in the nighttime affair.

Notes

Andrés Chaparro: 1-3, 3B, 2 RBI
Andrew Saalfrank: 2.0 IP, 0 R/0 ER, 2 K

Transactions

4/2/24OF Brett Johnson assigned to Reno Aces from Visalia Rawhide.
Reno Aces Opening Day at Greater Nevada Field. The Reno Aces dropped a 12-inning decision 9-8 to the Sacramento River Cats on April 2, 2024 (Michael Smyth / This is Reno)

April 4: Sacramento 9 – Reno 8 (11 innings)

W: Donovan Walton (2-0, 0.00 ERA) L: Francisco Morales (0-1, 5.40 ERA)
First pitch: 6:05 p.m. PST | Attendance: 2,198 | Time: 3:41

The Aces surrendered a 5-2 lead with two out in the top of the ninth and would give up another pair in the 11th to suffer their third-straight loss to the River Cats.

Sacramento’s Heliot Ramos 3-for-5 at the plate with three RBI would lead the way for the visitors on another chilly evening with snow showers in the vicinity.

The Aces didn’t help themselves defensively, committing three errors while Aces pitchers issued eight free passes.

Reno turned an early 2-1 deficit into their 5-2 lead in the fifth after Albert Almora Jr. and Kyle Garlick pushed across four runs in the frame after third baseman Andrés Chaparro hit his first bomb of the year in the fourth.

Notes

Andrés Chaparro: 1-for-6, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Albert Almora Jr: 2-for-6, 1 2B, 2 RBI
Kyle Garlick: 1-for-5, 1 2B, 3 RBI
Austin Pope: 1.0 IP, 0 R/ 0 ER, 2 K

Transactions

4/4/24OF Brett Johnson assigned to Hillsboro Hops from Reno Aces.
4/4/24Arizona Diamondbacks optioned OF Jorge Barrosa to Reno Aces.
Reno Aces Opening Day at Greater Nevada Field. The Reno Aces dropped a 12-inning decision 9-8 to the Sacramento River Cats on April 2, 2024 (Michael Smyth / This is Reno)

April 5: Sacramento 1 – Reno 9

W: C. Mena (2-0, 0.82 ERA) L: C. Whisenhunt (0-1, 6.75 ERA)
First pitch: 6:09 p.m. PST | Attendance: 3,221 | Time: 2:16

Cristian Mena was just what the doctor ordered to halt the three-game skid of a reeling Aces squad.

The Dominican right-hander picked up his second win of the season, shutting down a potent River Cats offense that had plated 30 runs in their three wins. Mena fired 51 strikes on 81 pitches, giving up just one hit and one earned run in five strong innings.

Mena’s performance seemed to inspire what had been a shaky bullpen as Chris Rodriguez and Emailin Montilla would combine to shut out Sacramento over the final three frames.

After starting the season in Arizona with the Diamondbacks and recording his first MLB hit in his first at-bat, centerfielder Jorge Barrosa returned to lead Reno with four RBI, along with shortstop Kevin Newman who went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI.

Notes

Jorge Barrosa: 2-for-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Kevin Newman: 3-for-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R

Transactions

None

Manager Blake Lalli gets some intel during Reno Aces Opening Day at Greater Nevada Field. The Reno Aces dropped a 12-inning decision 9-8 to the Sacramento River Cats on April 2, 2024 (Michael Smyth / This is Reno)

April 6: Sacramento 5 – Reno 12

W: K. Pilkington (1-0, 6.75 ERA) L: M. Black (0-1, 3.12)
First pitch: 4:05 p.m. PST | Attendance: 3,020 | Time: 3:00

Aces catcher Adrian Del Castillo smacked a pair of dingers and plated four runs, and Kyle Garlick added a two-run shot as the Aces gave themselves another dominant win and a chance at a series split with their rivals from California’s Central Valley.

Garlick’s blast made the 32-year-old veteran the Pacific Coast League’s leader in home runs (5) and RBI (5).

The home team built an 11-3 lead through five innings, but manager Blake Lalli would need seven pitchers to secure the win. Reliever Austin Pope, who had given up the lead in an earlier series loss, struggled once again, giving up two earned runs in 2/3 of an inning and ballooning his ERA over 13.

Albert Almora Jr. continued his hot hitting with a 3-for-4 day and two RBI, and raising his season batting average to .464 in the early going.

The win pushed Reno back above the .500 mark at 4-3.

Notes

Jorge Barrosa: 2-for-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB
Albert Almora Jr. six-game hit streak.

Transactions

None

Jordan Montgomery throws a pitch for the Reno Aces against the Sacramento River Cats. The Aces gained a split in their first six-game home stand of the season with a 6-4 victory over the River Cats on April 7, 2024 at Greater Nevada Field in Reno, NV (Michael Smyth / This is Reno)

April 7: Sacramento 4 – Reno 6

W: B. Walston (1-0, 10.80 ERA) L: R.J. Dabovich (0-1, 10.38 ERA) S: J. Martinez (S, 2)
First pitch: 4:05 p.m. PST | Attendance: 3,020 | Time: 3:00

After dropping a pair of late leads and getting shelled in another loss—to lose the first three games of the series—the Aces donned their Sunday red Biggest Little City jerseys and secured the final game of the series on Dog Day at Greater Nevada Field to salvage a 3-3 series split.

Albert Almora Jr. continued his torrid pace at the plate, running his hit streak to seven games, going 3-for-5 and two RBI while pushing his average to .485—tops in the PCL.

Pavin Smith added an RBI and a 2-for-2 day at the plate while working Sacramento pitchers for three free passes.

Fireballer Justin Martinez locked down the win in the ninth, earning his first save with a pair of strikeouts.

After a lengthy wait as a free agent in the offseason, pitcher Jordan Montgomery made his 2024 debut for the Reno Aces after signing a 1-year, $25 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The big lefty, who pitched against his new team for the Texas Rangers during last year’s World Series, tossed four innings giving up three hits and a pair of runs in his first action since last October.

“You never like to give up runs, but I got my four innings in and got out healthy,” Montgomery said. “That’s all that matters.”

Montgomery was asked about joining the Diamondbacks organization and the longer-than-comfortable free agency period. “They were in the World Series last year for a reason,” he said. “Good team and good players like Corbin (Carroll) and (Alek) Thomas and just a bunch of really good baseball players.”

Montgomery added, “The lord put me where I’m supposed to be, that’s it.”

The Aces head out on the road for two weeks at Tacoma and Salt Lake City before returning home on April 23 to host the Sugarland Space Cowboys (Houston Astros) for six games.

Notes

Justin Martinez: 1.0 IP, 0 R, 2 K, 1 S

Transactions

4/7/24LHP Jordan Montgomery assigned to Reno Aces from ACL D-backs.
4/7/24Arizona Diamondbacks selected the contract of SS Kevin Newman from Reno Aces.

More scenes from Greater Nevada Field

Michael Smyth
Michael Smyth
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.

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