El Paso takes 2-0 series lead on Reno Aces
Special to the Appeal
RENO — El Paso figured out Aces pitching early in its playoff series with Reno.
The Chihuahuas scored three runs against Reno starter Taylor Clarke in the fourth inning Thursday and then knocked out the right-hander in the next inning on the way to a 7-2 win in the Pacific Coast League championship series at Greater Nevada Field.
Reno, the Pacific North champs with an 80-62 regular-season record, fell to the Chihuahuas, 3-1, Wednesday in the first game of best-of-five series.
El Paso, the Pacific South champion, hosts the Aces tonight at 6:05 p.m., holding a 2-0 series lead Anthony Banda (8-7) takes the mound for Reno, facing El Paso’s Walker Lockett (5-2).
Clarke had command over El Paso for the first three innings, limiting the Chihuahuas to three hits and striking out five. El Paso hurler Bryan Rodriguez kept Reno in check not only for the first three innings but also for most of the game except for a seventh-inning jam. Reno scored a run to slice the lead to 4-2 and loaded the bases before Rodriguez retired the next three batters, two of them on strikeouts.
El Paso battered four pitchers for 15 hits. Rodriguez, who was on his game, picked up the win, allowing six hits and two earned runs. He fanned five and walked two.
The Chihuahuas had their break in the fourth inning. Hunter Renfroe led off with a single to left field. One out later, shortstop Jose Rondon pounced on the first pitch for an RBI double to break the scoreless tie.
Clarke, though, served up another first-pitch fastball to Dusty Coleman as gave El Paso a 3-0 lead with a two-run homerun.
Reno responded with a run in the bottom of the fourth on Christian Walker’s solo homer to centerfield. Walker, the PCL’s Most Valuable Player, finished the regular season with a team-high 32 home runs.
El Paso led 4-1 after the Aces committed two errors, and Clarke gave up a run on a sacrifice fly. Reno made a pitching change with Joey Krehbiel coming in to wrap up the inning. Clarke, who faced El Paso for the first time in his career, gave up nine hits. Coming into the game, Clarke had a 3-2 record over 33.1 innings.
Reno tagged Rodriguez to open the seventh. Pinch hitter Rudy Flores hit a lead-off single to right field, followed by Jack Reimheimer’s infield hit. Centerfielder Evan Marzilli stroked a single for an RBI, and a throwing error to home allowed the runners to move up to second and third. Ronnie Freeman walked before Rodriguez wiggled out of the bases-loaded situation.
El Paso greeted Reno reliever Aaron Laffey with two runs in the eighth. Rocky Gale doubled, and pinch hitter Diego Gorris smacked a two-run homer to centerfield for a 6-2 lead. El Paso added a run in the ninth.
Chihuahuas reliever Kevin Quackenbush pitched the final two innings.