RENO — John Omahen’s first three starts for the Reno Aces were unimpressive to say the least.
The right-hander yielded 28 hits in 14.2 innings and lost twice with one no decision.
Omahen turned it around on Thursday, allowing just five hits in seven innings and driving in the go-ahead run in the five-run fifth with a safety squeeze to lead the Aces to a 5-1 win over the Sacramento River Cats before a crowd of 6,257 at Greater Nevada Field.
The win was the second straight for the Aces, who dropped the opener, 12-4, Tuesday night.
“I just trusted myself,” Omahen said.
“I had great defense behind me (all night). They made some great plays. I feel like I’ve been consistent throwing (strikes).”
Omahen (1-2) walked just one in his 90-pitch effort, 53 of which were strikes.
“His change-up was a great pitch for him tonight,” Aces manger Phil Nevin said. “He established the change early, and got into the hitter’s heads. Our defense was tremendous behind him.”
That’s an understatement. The Aces turned two double plays, and the flashy Ildemaro Vargas played shortstop for the first time in a Reno uniform, and he started both double plays.
Vargas has shown he can play both middle infield positions, and he has better range than any other Reno middle infielder.
“He’s great,” said Omahen. “We’ve been playing together all year (Mobile and Reno). Every game he comes up and asks me for groundballs.”
“I hadn’t seen much of him at short (before),” Nevin said. “He’s some kind of special.”
Despite the great defense and Omahen’s pitching, the Aces did nothing with Chris Stratton through four innings, managing just two hits hence the scoreless game.
That changed in the fifth.
Gabby Guerrero doubled and went to third on an infield out.
Dan Rohlfing was walked intentionally, and Omahen dropped down a bunt, and Guerrero scored.
“That was a safety squeeze,” Nevin said. “Gabby made a great read to score.”
Vargas followed with a run-scoring single, the red-hot Mitch Haniger doubled in two and Kyle Jensen singled in one to make it 5-0.
Sacramento got a runner to third in the eighth, but he was stranded. Jimmie Sherfy pitched two-thirds of an inning for his fifth save.
Today, Shelby Miller (1-0, 4.63) takes the mound tonight against Joan Gregorio (3-6, 5.34) in the seried finale.
Fresno invades Greater Nevada Field for a four-game series starting Saturday. Edwin Escobar (5-2, 4.83) starts Friday and Matt Buschman (7-7, 5.10) gets the nod on Saturday.
NO MORE PANIK
After getting two singles Wednesday night in Sacramento’s 7-3 loss, second baseman Joe Panik rejoined the Giants for the series against the Nationals. Ehire Adrianza, and Hunter Pence are still with the River Cats on rehab assignments.
The Diamondbacks have sent the versatile Mike Freeman back down to Reno, and according to reports, Freeman has 72 hours to accept the assignment or he could be designated for assignment.
STRAWBERRY IN TOWN
Former Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry will appear at Greater Nevada Field for the Reno Aces games tonight and Saturday.
The four-time World Series champion will participate in the Aces’ Faith Night tonight, and will sign autographs both nights.
Strawberry will sign autographs at 4 p.m. in the Freight House District tonight and will sign by the Aces’ team shop starting at 6:45 p.m. Saturday.