Hardy crowd greets Reno Silver Sox
By Mike Houser
RENO – Northern Nevada weather gave the Reno Silver Sox a not-so-warm welcome before their exhibition game against the Chico Outlaws Saturday at Peccole Park.
About 25 minutes before the game, first rain, then sleet, then snow came down, but as the weather improved the Silver Sox warmed up and took a 6-3 victory in front of an estimated crowd of 200.
“It was a great crowd,” said Silver Sox general manager Dwight Dortch. “For a cold night like this, it was a great crowd. I’m hoping to be sold out (Friday and Saturday). We already have 1,100-1,200 presales already.”
Silver Sox manager Les Lancaster played 23 of his players, including six pitchers, who gave up a combined six hits. Hideki Nagasaka started for Reno, allowing one unearned run and one hit in his three innings of play. Nagasaka struck out four and didn’t issue any walks.
“We are only disappointed in our fielding errors,” Lancaster said. “But this time of year pitching is ahead of fielding anyway. We saw some of our main guys today, who we’ll be counting on during the season. We knew what to expect from Nagasaka – he was on the Samurai team (in Japan). All the relievers came in after that and did their jobs.”
Reliever William Krout, who came in to begin the fourth, picked up the win after Reno had a five-run inning to erase an early deficit. Krout went two scoreless innings, striking out two and giving up one hit.
The Outlaws picked up a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Nagasaka hit Chico third baseman Craig Kuzmic with a pitch to open up the inning. Kuzmic advanced on a Nagasaka pick-off attempt at first and later reached home when Silver Sox second baseman Mike Done bobbled a grounder by Jesse Kovacs for one of Reno’s four errors.
Nagasaka later struck out the side in the third and after Krout pitched a hitless fourth, the Silver Sox rebounded in the bottom of the inning, when Reno sent nine batters to the plate.
Chico’s Nick Singleton gave up two hits in a scoreless three innings for the Outlaws and gave way to Ryan Tracey, who lasted only 1/3 of an inning and gave up three walks to open the inning. Twelve of Tracey’s first 13 pitches were balls, including his first nine.
With the bases loaded, Silver Sox right fielder Hector Zamora hit a double off the right-field wall to score Marcus Jensen and Edgar Varela, giving Reno a 2-1 lead.
Former University of Nevada infielder Bub Madrid followed with an RBI-single to center and after Tracey was lifted for Colin Ward-Henninger, Silver Sox left fielder Phil Grau doubled to make it 4-1.
Reno shortstop Done scored on a wild pitch to give the Silver Sox a four-run advantage.
After pinch hitter Angelo Tavelli had an RBI-single to cut Reno’s lead to three in the seventh, Outlaws reliever Adam Gold walked in pinch hitter Paul Rottman to give the Silver Sox a 6-2 lead.
Lino Garcia rounded out the scoring, singling in Jason Van Meetren to make it 6-3 in the eighth.
The Silver Sox finished with six hits, led by Madrid (1-for-2, 1 RBI, one run scored), Zamora (1-for-3, 2 RBI) and Grau (1-for-3, 1 RBI). Varela went 0-for-1, but walked three times and scored a run.
Aside from the four errors, the Silver Sox were solid – most notably from the mound – and, for the most part, pleased Lancaster, who said he had until Wednesday to cut down his 27-man roster to 22.
About the only surprise Lancaster said he received was from the brief snow flurry.
“It was amazing (considering) the way it was early in the week. Today it turned around and I thought I was in Chicago again for Opening Day,” said Lancaster, who played for the Cubs early in his Major League career.
Lancaster said he was impressed with Zamora’s defense in the outfield and that of Evan Sobel at shortstop. He also said he was pleased with the performances of his catchers, Jensen and Dennis Peters.
Reno will open its inaugural season by hosting the Long Beach Armada for a four-game series beginning Friday at 6:35 p.m. at Peccole Park. Gameshow host Pat Sajak will throw out the opening pitch.
The Armada finished last year in a second-place tie with Chico, with a 49-41 record in the California Division of the Golden Baseball League.
“Long Beach is going to have some good pitchers,” said Lancaster, who last year managed Mesa. “They were one of the top teams last year. We have to come out and produce some runs and get to their bullpen and make them use as many of their pitchers as possible.”
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