Silver Sox should’ve stayed in the fast lane
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Catcher Maza Chikazawa wanted a fastball. Pitcher Chris Testa shook him off and threw a curveball.
Obviously Testa wasn’t paying attention when Chris Wakeland blasted a two-run homer on a breaking pitch off Reno starter James Johnson in the first inning.
The 33-year-old Wakeland, who had a cup of coffee with the Detroit Tigers back in 2001, blasted the Testa pitch well over the fence in right for a two-out, three-run homer, snapping a 5-all tie and giving the Los Angeles Armada an 8-6 win over the Silver Sox Wednesday night at Peccole Park.
The loss dropped Reno to 14-18 in Golden Baseball League play, while the Armada, trying to chase down Chico for the first-half title, improved to 20-12.
If they didn’t know it already, the Silver Sox saw first-hand that baseball is indeed a game of inches.
It appeared that Testa had Wakeland struck out on the 2-2 fastball, but it was ruled low by the plate umpire. Wakeland knocked the next one out of the yard for an 8-5 lead. “One pitch and they got three runs off of it,” said player-coach Mike Done, who was given the night off at second base by manager Les Lancaster and actually ran the team. “Our catcher had one pitch in mind and the pitcher had another. The 2-2 pitch could have gone either way. If it had gone one way, we would have won it in the ninth.”
Reno did make it interesting in the ninth, however.
Sam Walker reached on an error and Maurice Cole walked to put runners on first and second with no outs. Victor Hall moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt. Walker scored on Ryan Kowalski’s roller to second base. Dane De La Rosa, who worked the last 1 2/3 innings retired the dangerous Juan Senreiso on a roller to second to end the game.
Johnson had a rough beginning, allowing three runs in the first and one in the second.
Chris Klemm hit a one-out single to right and scored ahead of Wakeland’s towering two-run homer. Jaime Martinez walked and eventually scored when shortstop Sam Walker threw wildly to first on a potential inning-ending double play.
In the second, David Ramirez led off with a single, advanced to second on Jorge Araiza’s single and scored on a single by Klemm.
Reno cut the deficit in half in its half of the second when Ryan Brown was safe on an error and scored on Kane Simmons’ triple to the gap in right-center field. After Chikazawa popped out, Walker rolled a ground ball into the right-field corner for a run-scoring double.
After Walker’s run-scoring hit, Armada starter Ryan Claypool retired the next 10 hitters until Victor Hall singled in the sixth. Hall moved to second on an errant pickoff throw to third and scored on Jose Rodriguez’s fielder’s choice to make it 5-3 after six.
Reno drew even at 5 thanks to a solo homer by Maurice Cole in the seventh off Taylor George, and Ryan Brown’s run-scoring single off De La Rosa in the eighth. It was only Cole’s third hit of the season.
The eighth inning should have netted more than a run, but Rodriguez, mired in an awful slump grounded into a double play with no outs. Brown followed with his single up the middle.
Reno had just nine hits in the two-game series, and a couple of big bats have been silent.
Rodriguez went 0-for-4 and is now 2 for his last 30. Senreiso is 0 for his last 8. With injuries to Bub Madrid (hamstring) and Chuck Sindlinger (ankle), Lancaster can’t make any moves with his position players.
Done said coaching third gave him a different perspective in terms of watching is hitters, and Lancaster also had a chance to see his hitters from the dugout which he isn’t used to doing.
“It’s more mental than mechanical with Jose,” Done said. “When Jose is hitting well, he hits the ball hard to the opposite field. He’s trying to pull everything now. We have to get him to relax. Victor is pulling off the ball. He’s hitting a lot of groundballs to first base. Hopefully we can get things back at St. George (on Friday).”
Reno takes on the Roadrunners Friday night. The Silver Sox have won all eight games against St. George this season.