Reno went back to trying to outslug its opponents, but one swing proved to be the difference as Yan Gomes’ solo shot in the seventh inning lifted the Las Vegas 51s to an 8-7 victory at Aces Ballpark Monday night.
With both starting pitchers leaving the game early and allowing seven earned runs apiece, it came down to which bullpen would break. Only one did and it was the team riding a four-game win streak.
The two teams traded blows in the first inning after each team’s leadoff batter reached base. Las Vegas’ Adeiny Hechavarria singled to left field and moved up to second base on a groundball out to first base.
With two outs, Moises Sierra drove a double to right field, knocking in Hechavarria.
In the bottom of the first, Reno’s Adam Eaton walked and went to second on a sacrifice bunt. Eaton sprinted home on Josh Bell’s RBI single to right field, tying the game at 1-1.
Las Vegas pitcher Tim Redding got in some trouble in the bottom of the third, allowing singles to Konrad Schmidt and Taylor Harbin to start the inning.
Eaton followed with a double off second baseman Ruben Gotay that deflected into center field, enabling Schmidt to score the go-ahead run.
The Aces weren’t done. Harbin came home on Jake Elmore’s RBI groundout to second base.
Ryan Wheeler’s two-out single to right field capped the three-run rally and brought Eaton home from third, making it a 4-1 ballgame.
The trouble Reno pitcher Tom Layne got in during the top of the fourth frame was a little worse.
Layne gave up back-to-back base knocks to Travis d’Arnaud and Gomes. A strikeout was the second out of the inning, but Layne couldn’t escape damage.
Gotay singled up the middle, driving in one run. A walk to Mike McCoy loaded the bases for Hechavarria, who blasted a 1-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a grand slam, giving the lead back to the 51s, 6-4.
Reno had to go to the bullpen in the top of the fifth after Layne walked the first two hitters of the inning. David Cooper later scored on a groundout, pushing the Las Vegas lead to 7-4.
However, Las Vegas also had to go to the bullpen in the fifth inning. Eaton opened the bottom half of the inning with a solo shot.
After the first out was recorded, Bell doubled and Randy Ruiz tripled in succession, cutting the deficit to 7-6. Ruiz came plateward on a Wheeler groundout after Bobby Korecky replaced Redding on the mound. Neither starting pitcher factored in the decision and the teams were tied 7-7 after five innings.
That’s how the score remained until the top of the seventh when Gomes connected on the first pitch he saw from Sam Demel and cleared the fence in right field for a solo home run with one out. Demel took over pitching duties from fellow reliever Victor Capellan to start the seventh and was saddled with the loss.
Korecky, Jerry Gil, Robert Coello and Ryota Igarashi combined to throw 4 2-3 innings of scoreless relief to secure the win for the visiting squad. Igarashi pitched the ninth to earn the save.
Gomes and d’Arnaud were both 3-for-5 in the win. Anthony Gose and Hechavarria each added two hits in the 51s’ 14-hit attack.
Reno, which managed 11 hits, was led by Eaton’s 3-for-4 and two-RBI performance. Bell, Wheeler and Schmidt all were 2-for-4 at the plate. Wheeler had two RBI.
Game 2 of the four-game set is scheduled for today at 6:35 p.m. and will set up a match-up between Aces right-hander Barry Enright (2-1, 1.75 ERA) and 51s southpaw Aaron Laffey (0-3, 7.91 ERA).