Silver Sox protect their house
Appeal Sports Writer
Defense turned out to be the key to victory Thursday night as the Silver Sox held on for a 5-4 win at Peccole Park over the Fullerton Flyers.
The win gives Reno a 2-0 lead in the Golden Baseball League best of five championship series as the clubs head to Fullerton for the rest of the series.
The Flyers jumped out to an early lead, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning off of Reno starter Chris Marini. Leadoff hitter Clemente Bonilla sent a blooper down the right field line for a double and took third when right fielder Carlos Rodriguez’ throw went over the cutoff and rolled to the fence on the left field foul line. Bonilla scored on Jesse Schmidt’s infield single up the middle as Silver Sox second baseman Mike Done made a diving stop behind the bag but couldn’t make a play. Schmidt would score on Trevor Hall’s single before Marini got former Reno player Hector Zamora looking to end the inning. Marini would follow with six scoreless innings before leaving after the seventh.
“I thought the pitch selection in the first inning wasn’t too good,” said Reno manager Les Lancaster.
“After that, he got locked in and got in the groove and threw six shutout innings. He settled down and was real effective.”
The Silver Sox, meanwhile, couldn’t get much going against Fullerton starter Jeff Groeger who gave up three hits and one run through five innings. Groeger’s only difficulty early came in the fourth when he walked Doug Gredvig and James Shanks with two outs before Lou Lucca hit a bullet just inside the bag at third, driving in Gredvig.
Lancaster gave Groeger credit for the Sox’ early offensive woes.
“You gotta take your hat off to Groeger. He mixed his pitches up well and kept us off balance. When he had to make the pitches, he did and he got the outs.”
Reno finally broke through against Groeger with three consecutive singles to start the sixth. Lucca brought in Gredvig before Done laced a long drive over Schmidt’s head in right off of reliever Ryan Olson to give the Silver Sox a 3-2 lead.
The Sox extended their lead when center fielder Demond Smith hit a shot over the fence in left center with two outs in the eighth. C. J. Lang of Sparks then drew a walk and advanced on an Olson balk before Marcus Jensen was hit by a pitch. Lang scored when the Flyers shortstop, Bret Levier, couldn’t handle a hot grounder from Rodriguez, giving Reno a seemingly comfortable 5-2 lead.
No lead is too comfortable at Peccole Park, as Fullerton proved in the ninth inning. Reno closer Scott Schneider came in to close out the game, but Peanut Williams had other ideas. Williams hit a towering drive over the center field wall. Hall followed with a long ball of his own to pull the Flyers within one run. Zamora then singled to put the tying run on and Schneider left for Mike McTamney. The crowd held it collective breath as DH Rich Pohle drove the ball deep to center off of the fence. Smith played the one hop perfectly and came up throwing. Done caught the throw and fired a bullet to home where Jensen was waiting to block Zamora from the plate and apply the tag. The crowd rose to its feat for the play that may have given the Silver Sox its first championship.
Lancaster belives that a play like that could turn the tide for his club.
“I think something like what took place tonight in the ninth took the air out of them. More than what it would have done in a 1-2-3 inning because they had a chance to come back. The emotions turn off and on and hopefully it’ll work in our favor.”
The best of five Golden League championship Series continues tonight in Fullerton at 7:05 p.m.