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New addition Brown leads Silver Sox to win

New addition Brown leads Silver Sox to win

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – The Reno Silver Sox should give an assist to Chico Outlaws skipper Mark Parent for their latest Golden Baseball League victory.

Parent told Reno manager Les Lancaster about catcher-first baseman Ryan Brown, and Lancaster reached Brown by telephone Saturday around 6 p.m. down in the Newport Beach area, and told him to get to Reno in time for batting practice.

Brown, who said he couldn’t sleep once he arrived, went 2-for-5, including a three-run homer, to help the Silver Sox to a 13-8 win over Yuma Sunday at Peccole Park.

The win was the Silver Sox’s fifth in their last six games, and gave them some much-needed momentum heading into a two-game home series against Chico starting tonight at 7.

Brown played four years at UC-Irvine and one year at Cal-State Los Angeles. He played Single-A ball for the Cincinnati Reds in 2006, and was then released.

“I had a tryout with Long Beach, but then got released in training camp,” Brown said. “I was supposed to go down to Chico for a tryout, but that didn’t work out. The Chico coach set me up here. I couldn’t ask for a better day.”

Brown certainly gets an A-plus in winning friends quickly.

Brown’s three-run blast turned out to be big because Yuma scored two in the ninth and had the bases jammed before closer Chris Testa could get the final out.

The Silver Sox could certainly use Brown’s bat. Jose Rodriguez, who went 4-for-5 to lead the 15-hit attack, can play some first base, but is better behind the plate. Cody Nowlin, who started the season at first, entered Saturday’s game hitting just .236.

Bub Madrid, Nowlin, Brown and Mike Done all finished with two hits, and all three contributed in the clutch in the seventh and eighth innings when Reno snapped a 6-6 tie with three in the seventh and four in the eighth.

Madrid put Reno ahead 7-6 with a sacrifice fly to right. Nowlin singled Rodriguez to second and Done, who is 4-for-7 in his last two games, singled home Rodriguez. An error scored Nowlin with the inning’s final run.

In the eighth, Rodriguez doubled with one out and scored on Nowlin’s two-out single. Nowlin moved to second on Done’s single, and both scored on Brown’s blast to left.

“It was a fastball,” Brown said of the pitch. “The ball carries to left here well. That’s usually a pop-up for me.”

Yuma made it interesting with two in the ninth. Mike Peck, who pitched a scoreless eighth, was ineffective in the ninth. Testa had to come in and close it out, though he too struggled.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world,” Lancaster said. “We’ll take the victory.”

That’s not a surprising statement, considering the defending GBL champs are only 9-13.

One of the bright spots in the last two days has been the play of Done, who has gone 4-for-7 and made two spectacular defensive plays. He has raised his average about 30 points over the weekend and his hitting .229.

The defensive gem he made Sunday was worthy of mention on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

With the game scoreless in the top of the fifth, Yuma’s Tank Peterson hit a hard shot up the middle that had base hit written all over it. Done dove to his right, gloved the ball and then flipped it to shortstop Chuck Sindlinger, who threw out Peterson at first base.

“You rarely see a play like that at this level,” Lancaster said. “Mike’s defense has always been very good. He only made four errors last year. He’s still a solid defender.”

“There was a play earlier where I dove for the ball and couldn’t come up with it,” Done said. “Chuck was yelling ‘Flip it flip it.’ I knew I couldn’t get it there. It turned out to be the best play I ever made in my life.”

Done, who also doubles as Reno’s hitting coach, has been struggling at the plate, and he hopes the last two games will help him turn the corner.

“I’ve just started relaxing more,” Done said. “At the beginning of the year I was pretty relaxed. We started to lose and I took it out on myself. I couldn’t sleep at night.”

Done said he talked to Lancaster about it. He even enlisted the help of some of his teammates.

“I was too stiff up there at the plate,” Done said. “Without any video, I couldn’t see myself, what I was doing wrong.”

Lancaster said maybe having dual roles has hurt a bit, and that Done is putting too much pressure on himself.

But the beauty of baseball is there are different ways to help a team.

“I want to help the team out,” Done said. “If I’m not hitting the ball, I can help on defense. If you make a couple of errors on defense, you get a chance at the plate to make up for it.”

Done has been sterling in both areas.

It was his reaching on an error that ignited a six-run fifth inning that gave the Silver Sox a 6-1 lead. Kane Simmons drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, Rodriguez drove in two with a single, Madrid doubled in a run and two scored on an error.

But Reno just couldn’t stand prosperity. Yuma tied the game at 6 with five runs in the seventh inning, and an error by Reno starter James Johnson played a big role. Johnson pitched 6 1/3 innings, leaving with a no-decision.

With one out and a runner at first, Pascual Matos hit a dribbler down the first-base line that Johnson bobbled. Peterson and Nik Crouch followed with run-scoring singles. After Justin Prado walked, Hector Bernal hit a run-scoring single and Johnson was replaced by Josh Evans, who walked Mikail Jova and Henry Calderon to force in a run, tying the game at 6.

“The first three innings, J.J. got the ball up,” Lancaster said. “The big thing was that little groundball when he tried to tag the runner instead of throwing to first.”

Johnson gave up three hits and two walks after that error. Reliever Josh Evans walked two batters before retiring the side. Evans got credit for the win when his teammates scored three in the seventh to go ahead 9-6.

NOTES: Travis Tully was traded to Coastal Bend, which cleared up a roster space for Brown … Juan Senresio has been less-than-impressive in the field. He badly misplayed a ball late in the game … Sindlinger, who has been solid at shortstop, had the distinction of making the third out of the inning in the sixth, seventh and eighth. He was the only Reno player not to hit safely.

• Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadappeal.com or by calling (775) 881-1281.