River Cats rally for win in afternoon slugfest
The Reno Aces fell to the Sacramento River Cats, 11-9, on Sunday afternoon in the second game of the teams’ four-game series at Greater Nevada Field. A record-setting performance by Aces first baseman Kyle Jensen was overshadowed in the back-and-forth affair, which saw 10 runs over the final two innings. The River Cats had the last word with a four-run ninth that turned a 9-7 deficit into a two-run win.
Reno jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Leadoff man Ildemaro Vargaswas hit by a pitch before scoring the game’s first run two batters later on A.J. Pollock’s RBI double. With Jensen at bat, Sacramento starter Ty Blach attempted to pick Pollock off second, but his throw went wide into center field and the 2015 National League All-Star raced around to score on the two-base miscue. Jensen added a third run on a towering home run to center field, his 28th of the season to set an Aces single-season record.
Each team scored a run in the second. Austin Slater led off with a double for the River Cats, moving up on a groundout before crossing home on Ruben Tejada’s RBI single. Dan Rohlfing started the home half with a base hit to left, moving up on a sacrifice bunt and then scoring on Vargas’ single that made the score 4-1 in favor of Reno.
Sacramento (60-69) scored five runs on seven hits in the fifth, including a triple and three doubles as 10 River Cats players batted during the frame. The visitors increased their lead to 7-4 in the eighth, as Travis Ishikawa drew a one-out walk and then advanced to third on a single before scoring on Tejada’s sacrifice fly.
The Aces (69-60) sent 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the eighth, scoring five runs on six hits and taking advantage of a River Cats fielding error to go back in front by a 9-7 score. Rohlfing began the rally with a base hit through the right side, moving to second on a pinch-hit single by Zach Borenstein. A fielding error by Sacramento third baseman Myles Schroder – his second miscue of the game – loaded the bases for Jack Reinheimer The 2016 PCL All-Star cut the deficit to 7-5 with an RBI single, setting the stage for Pollock’s game-tying two-run base hit. Jensen followed with a go-ahead knock to left that gave Reno its first lead since the fourth. Following a strikeout, Sócrates Brito provided what looked like an insurance run on a single to left that plated Pollock.
In the ninth, Sacramento rallied to win the game with four runs off Aces closer Jimmie Sherfy. Center fielder Ryan Lollis, who had pinch-hit for Gorkys Hernandez in the fourth inning, singled to left-center to lead off the frame. A walk set up Slater’s RBI single before Ishikawa delivered the decisive blow, a three-run home run to right field on a 3-2 pitch that produced the final margin.
Jensen and Pollock each went 3-for-5 to lead Reno offensively, with Pollock driving in three runs and Jensen posting two RBI. The California native now has 111 RBI on the season, passing Josh Whitesell of the 2008 Tucson Sidewinders (110) for the most in a year by a Diamondbacks Triple-A player.
Making his first start for Reno since 2010, right-hander Billy Buckner allowed six earned runs on 11 hits over six innings, with one walk and five strikeouts. Sherfy (1-3) took the loss after he blew his second save in 12 chances for Reno and 30 opportunities overall this year.
The Aces and River Cats continue their four-game series with game three on Monday night. First pitch from Greater Nevada Field is set for 7:05 p.m. PT. Right-hander Matt Buschmann (8-9, 5.16) will get the ball for Reno, while Sacramento will send righty Albert Suarez (3-3, 3.98) to the mound.