RENO — Dan Rohlfing makes no bones about it. He’s in Triple A baseball because of his skill behind the plate.
“My offensive numbers won’t jump off the page at you,” Rohlfing said. “It’s how I work with the pitching staff; handle the pitchers.”
The ball jumped off Rohlfing’s bat in a big way Wednesday night, as he hit two homers and drove in four runs to lead the Aces to a 7-3 win over Sacramento before a crowd of 4,850 fans at Greater Nevada Field.
The win was Reno’s 11th in its last 14 games since the all-star break, and was a nice answer to Tuesday’s 12-4 setback.
Rohlfing had just 14 homers in his previous nine seasons in the minors. It was his first multi-homer game of his career and his first homer in an Aces uniform.
“They were both fastballs,” Rohlfing said. “The big wall (in center)… I got the ball to the right of it. The second one (to right) I wasn’t sure if it was going to be high enough.”
“He has taken a lot of good at-bats recently,” Aces skipper Phil Nevin said. “I’m pleased with what he’s doing with our pitchers. He’s done a fine job for us.”
Rohlfing’s first homer, a solo shot off Clayton Blackburn, gave the Aces a 1-0 lead in the second.
Sacramento took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third when Ehire Adrianza doubled to left off starter Anthony Banda, advanced to third on Joe Panik’s roller and scored on Hunter Pence’s homer to right. It was Pence’s second off-field homer in as many nights.
Reno broke the game open in the sixth with four runs, and again Rohlfing provided the key hit.
Mitch Haniger doubled and scored on Kyle Jensen’s soft single to left, tying the game at 2. After Gabby Guerrero was retired, Carlos Rivero singled to right. Rohlfing followed with his three-run homer into the River Cats’ bullpen to make it 5-2.
The blow made a winner of Banda, who has turned in four quality starts after a shaky Triple A debut. Banda scattered seven hits in his six-inning stint. He fanned one and walked one. “That was better than decent,” Nevin said. “He threw strikes on both sides of the plate. He left the pitch up to Pence, and he (Pence) got it up in the air. He pitched Pence pretty good the rest of the game.”
Banda gave up two harmless singles to Panik and two to Kelby Tomlinson, both on rehab assignments from the Giants.
“The kid is good,” said Rohlfing, who caught Banda when the lefty was at Mobile at the start of the season. “His fastball just jumps out of his hand. He has a really good fastball.”
Sacramento closed the gap to 5-3 in the seventh, but run-scoring hits by Carlos Rivero and Sean Jamieson in the eighth cemented the outcome.
The four-game series continues today at 7:05 with Reno’s John Omahen (0-2,10.91) opposing Joan Gregorio (3-6, 5.34). On Friday, Shelby Miller (1-0, 4.63) faces Chris Stratton (7-4, 4.92).
Fresno invades Greater Nevada Field for a four-game series starting Saturday. Edwin Escobar (5-2, 4.83) starts Saturday and Matt Buschman (7-7, 5.10) gets the nod on Sunday.
Outfielder David Peralta is 2-for-7 in the series against the River Cats. He was sent down after suffering a lower back strain around June 20.
For the River Cats, Hunter Pence is 9-for-20 with three homers. Tomlinson extended his hitting streak to seven games and is hitting .523 in that span. Panik is 3-for-12 thanks to two hits on Wednesday.
Mitch Haniger has a seven-game hitting streak dating back to July 21 thanks to a double in the sixth. Ildemaro Vargas had his five-game hitting streak snapped.