The Tacoma Rainiers made a five-run fifth inning the difference in a series-opening 6-2 win over the Aces Monday night at Cheney Stadium.
Chris Taylor launched the first pitch thrown by Zeke Spruill into the left-field seats to give Tacoma and early 1-0 lead. Neither team did much as Reno left the bases loaded in the second and Spruill settled into a rhythm on the mound.
Corey Hart followed Taylor’s home run with a line-drive single to left. After the base hit, Spruill retired 11 of the next 12 batters he faced.
It was in the fifth when the Rainiers shook Spruill. Nick Franklin led off the inning with a sharp single to right-field. Gabriel Noriega then hit a smash at second baseman Mike Freeman that was mishandled. A possible double play turned into a two-on and nobody out situation for Tacoma.
Spruill came back to get Humberto Quintero on a fly out to right, but then allowed a two-run triple to Abraham Almonte to make it 3-0. It didn’t stop there as Taylor came up with another run-scoring hit, a single to left to up their lead to 4-0.
With still only one out in the inning, Hart came to the plate and drilled a 3-2 pitch from Spruill into the seats for a two-run homer.
The Aces came back in the sixth with a rally to plate a pair of runs. Tony Campana started the inning with a walk and moved to second to batters later when Alfredo Marte reached on an error. It came back to hurt Tacoma when Andy Marte lined a double to left to score Campana and Alfredo Marte to make it a 6-2 game.
Reno threatened to close the gap in the seventh when they loaded the bases with only one out. The opportunity went unanswered as Danny Dorn popped up for the second out and Alfredo Marte struck out to end the inning.
They put two on in the ninth inning as well, but Carson Smith slammed the door on any hope for a late rally.
The two teams will play game two of the series tomorrow. Right-hander Lucas Harrell (3-1, 4.64) gets the ball for the Aces against right-hander Chance Ruffin (3-3, 5.59) for the Rainiers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.