Aces romp in first home game
April 18, 2009
RENO ” Reno Aces manager Brett Butler called the atmosphere for the first-ever baseball game at Aces Ballpark “electric.”
And, he wasn’t talking about the post-game fireworks, either.
Reno’s offense supplied its own electricity, pounding out 14 hits Friday en route to an easy 11-1 Pacific Coast League win over Salt Lake before a sold-out crowd of 9,167.
On a night where there was the usual pomp and circumstance that goes with an Opening Night, winning the game is what made it extra special, and the Aces’ players were thrilled with the victory and the reception they received from their new home fans.
“It was awesome,” said starting pitcher Travis Blackley, who came within one out of picking up the win. “It was loud and high energy, and that always brings out your best.”
“It was more than I expected,” said right fielder Trent Oeltjen, who went 3 for 5 and drove in four runs. “Before the game there were a lot of butterflies. We were eager to get the game under way.”
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The game didn’t start out real well for the Aces, however.
With one out, Freddy Sandoval singled and made it to second when Oeltjen bobbled the ball. Blackley, who threw 29 pitches in the first inning, walked Terry Evans and then yielded a run-scoring single to Chris Pettit.
“I wasn’t as economical as I was last week,” said Blackley, who actually pitched better in this start, allowing a run and four hits in 4 2/3 innings. “I thought I threw well and made them hit it.”
Reno bounced back with three of its own in the bottom of the inning off starter and loser Mike MacDonald.
Brandon Watson singled on the first pitch and stole second. Alex Romero walked as did Josh Whitesell, the latter coming on a 10-pitch at-bat featuring four two-strike foul balls.
“That was beautiful,” Butler said.
After Augustin Murrillo fanned for the second out, Oeltjen atoned for his error with a two-out two-run bloop single to left. Oeltjen advanced to second on the throw home and scored on Rusty Ryal’s single to right.
The Aces added two more in the second.
Luke Carlin started the rally with a single up the middle, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Watson and scored on Alex Romero’s single. Whitesell walked to load the bases, and the Bees brought in Francisco Rodriguez to the mound.
Murrillo lined deep to left to score Josh Wilson, who had reached on a walk. Rodriquez fanned Oeltjen to end the inning.
The Bees brought in Matt Wilhite to start the fourth, and he received much the same treatment that MacDonald did.
With two outs, Whitesell pounded a double and scored when Murrillo singled to right. Murrillo advanced to second on the throw home and Oeltjen followed with a triple into the gap in right-center field. Ryal singled Oeltjen home to make it 8-1.
Blackley got two outs in the fifth before he reached his pitch limit with two outs after walking Sandoval on a 3-2 pitch that he thought was strike three. Blackley said he couldn’t believe that Sandoval laid off the pitch.
Butler admitted that he hated taking Blackley out so close to a win.
“There are limits to what we can do at times,” Butler said. “I wanted him to be able to get a win. In this organization, we’re not judged by wins and losses but by performance, and this was a good performance.”
Reliever Josh Ellis retired the next hitter to end the fifth inning and worked a scoreless sixth to pick up his first win of the season.
“Blackley did a great job,” Ellis said. “I felt bad I got the win after he pitched his butt off.”
Ellis, Esmerling Vasquez and Leo Rosales combined to limit the Bees to just two hits in 4 1/3 innings of relief. After scoring in the first, the Bees only got one runner as far as third the rest of the way.
The Aces went scoreless over the next three innings before closing out the scoring with three eighth-inning runs, one on a Romero single, one on an infield single by Oeltjen and an error.
“We all came through with runners in scoring position,” Oeltjen said. “It was a team effort.”
NOTES: Salt Lake’s Dan Denham (0-0, 6.75) starts against Reno’s Cesar Valdez (1-0, 1.80) in Saturday’s (6:05) sold-out game. According to spokesman T.J. Lasita, there are just a few tickets for Sunday’s game (1:05 p.m.) … It’s Magnet Schedule Day today and Sunday with the first 8,000 fans receiving the gift … There was a moment of silence for Nick Adenhart, the young Angels’ pitcher who was killed in a car accident last week. Adenhart pitched for Salt Lake last season … First balls were thrown out by Reno mayor Bob Cashell, Sparks mayor Geno Martini and Bill Raggio, state senator… The Fallon Naval Air Station provided a pre-game fly by… Murrillo loves the Bees’ pitching. He is 7 for 20 against Salt Lake thus far.