When Danny Farquhar stepped on the mound for Las Vegas to start the eighth inning, fans of the Blue Jays farm team probably wished there was a time machine at Aces Ballpark.
Farquhar proceeded to load the bases on a single to Collin Cowgill, a walk to Cole Gillespie and a single to Cody Ransom. Still with no outs, Brandon Allen recorded his first hit of the night, knocking in the game-tying and go-ahead run with a two-run single to left field for an 8-7 Reno edge.
Yhency Brazoban pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and almost a perfect ninth, but allowed a two-out single before slamming the door on the game to earn the win in relief.
It didn’t look good for the Aces early on. A night after scoring 16 runs in a three-inning span, Las Vegas put together an extended first-inning rally Thursday night. After Ramon Vazquez’s one-out triple to right field, David Cooper sent a flyball to left field, driving Vazquez in with a sac fly for the game’s first run.
Reno starter Zach Kroenke was far from efficient in the opening inning, letting his pitch count reach undesirable heights thanks to back-to-back walks to Ryan Shealy and Chris Woodward after Adam Loewen’s two-out single to right, loading the bases.
The 6,020 in attendance were hoping a coaching visit would settle down Kroenke. Instead, Jason Lane launched a grand slam over the left-field wall for a 5-0 51s lead. Kroenke threw 37 pitches in the first inning.
A three-bagger in the bottom half of the first led to the Aces’ first run. Tony Abreu’s leadoff triple to center field set the table for Cowgill, who grounded out to second, allowing Abreu to scamper home. But Reno didn’t have any more rally left in it, leaving the scoreboard reading 5-1 after one inning of play.
After two scoreless innings, Woodward led off the top of the fourth frame with a solo shot, increasing the 51’s lead to 6-1.
Reno answered right back with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Gillespie laced a line drive single to left field. He then moved into scoring position on Ransom’s walk and came home when Sean Burroughs lined an RBI single to left field, cutting the deficit back down to four, 6-2.
The four-run margin didn’t last long as Cooper went yard to right field with the bases empty and two outs in the top of the fifth making it a 7-2 ballgame.
Lane had his second chance at a grand slam in the fifth, but he had to face newly-entered reliever Jason Urquidez and struck out swinging, ending the threat that Kroenke created the same way he did in the first with a single and two straight base on balls.
Kroenke allowed seven runs on seven hits and four walks. He struck out five in the no decision, while working 4 2-3 innings.
Again, when the Aces came up in their offensive half of the inning, they had an answer for Las Vegas’ run. Cowgill tripled to center field, driving in Abreu, who had doubled. That left the scoreboard reading 7-3 in the visitors’ favor. This time, Reno wasn’t done.
With the help of the 51’s, the Aces pushed across another run after Gillespie reached base on a catcher interference call and Ransom reached based on a throwing error by Vazquez at shortstop, scoring Cowgill and closing the gap to 7-4.
Las Vegas starter Brett Cecil worked six innings and left the game with the 7-4 advantage, but Gillespie was on second after his leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh, which ended Cecil’s outing.
Gillespie was homeward bound after Ransom ripped a double down the left-field line. Ransom hustled over to third on a Wil Ledezma pitch in the dirt that barely got away from catcher Brian Jeroloman. A walk to Konrad Schmidt put runners on the corners and Sean Burroughs delivered his third hit of the night, a bloop RBI single into shallow right-center field, getting the Aces within one run, 7-6.
Cecil gave up one more hit than Kroenke, but only the five earned runs. He walked two and struck out three in the no decision.
Reno (44-31) out-hit Las Vegas (41-34) by a 13-8 margin on the night.
Reno will turn to right-hander Matt Torra (4-2, 5.60 ERA) to clinch a series victory, while Las Vegas will counter with righty Kyle Drabek (0-0, 9.00 ERA). First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. in the fourth game of the four-game set. The Aces lead the series two games to one.