So far, August hasn’t been much better, but playing the Memphis Redbirds might be exactly what the Aces needed to get back on track.
Reno took the series three games to one with its 13-10 victory in front of 9,018 fans Saturday night at Aces Ballpark. Andy Tracy homered twice, including a grand slam as part of a seven-run fourth frame to lead the Aces in Game 4 of the four game set.
But it was a three-run eighth-inning rally on the strength of only one hit that handed Reno the win.
The Redbirds turned to reliever Chuckie Fick in the bottom of the eighth, and that was the opening the Aces needed. Fick walked the first two batters he faced and then had to intentionally walk a third batter following a sacrifice.
Pinch hitter Robby Hammock singled in what proved to be the game-winning run. Then, Fick walked back-to-back hitters again, forcing in two more runs for the final 13-10 margin.
Ryan Cook came on in the ninth, recording the save.
Memphis grabbed a couple early leads but could never protect them.
For the Redbirds, cleanup hitter Mark Hamilton led off the top of the second with a double to right field. Consecutive infield groundouts brought him home for the game’s first run.
That lead was short-lived as Tracy came up to the plate to start the bottom half of the second and blasted a 1-1 pitch over the center-field wall for a game-tying solo shot.
Cole Gillespie followed Tracy’s shot with a bloop single that dropped in behind shortstop. Gillespie tried anticipating a pitch to the plate and took off early for second base. Redbirds pitcher Blaine Boyer stepped off the rubber and a good throw likely would have nailed Gillespie. However, the throw was errant and Gillespie rumbled all the way to third on Boyer‘s throwing error.
Boyer then proceeded to load the bases by walking and hitting the next two batters.
Reno took a 2-1 lead on Angel Berroa’s sacrifice fly to center field, but the home team stranded the bases loaded without pushing another run across.
That’s how the score remained until the fourth frame when Memphis tallied a pair of runs to grab a 3-2 edge thanks to two infield grounders, the first of which led to an error.
Once again, Reno had an answer in the bottom of the same inning. This time, the Aces didn’t just take a one-run lead.
Berroa scored the game-tying run on a wild pitch. With runners on first and third, a well-timed hit-and-run play drove in the go-ahead run and allowed the runner to go from first to third.
A walk loaded the bases and ended Boyer’s night. Cory Rauschenberger took the ball and was welcomed to the game by Tracy, who dropped a bomb on the first pitch he saw, sending a grand slam into the dark of the night beyond the center-field wall. That forged Reno ahead 8-3. The Aces weren’t done.
Back-to-back singles by Gillespie and Juan Miranda put runners on the corners. Lucas May capped the seven-run rally with a sacrifice fly to left, leaving the hosts in charge, 9-3 after four innings of play.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Berroa went yard with the bases empty to center field, increasing Reno’s cushion to 10-3.
Memphis didn’t roll over and die. It eventually got six runs in the seventh.
Aces manager Brett Butler was forced to go to his third pitcher of the seventh inning. Esmerling Vasquez stopped the bleeding, inducing an inning-ending fly out.
But Vasquez wasn’t as lucky when he came back out in the top of the eighth. Nick Stavinoha doubled to right and later came home on Matt Carpenter’s RBI line drive single to right field, tying the game at 10-10.
Reno opens up a four-game series today at home against Nashville. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.