The Reno Aces' struggles continued Monday night in a 4-2 loss to the Fresno Grizzlies at Chukchansi Park. The fifth consecutive defeat featured a similar story; the Aces fell behind early and couldn't complete the climb over an uphill battle.
For the fifth straight game, the Aces saw their opponent plate at least one run in the opening frame, and the early burst helped pave the way for right-hander Jake Buchanan (2-0).
Three straight singles by Jonathan Villar, Alex Presley and Preston Tucker provided the damage, putting the home team in front, 1-0.
The Aces threatened to tie the game in the third after Zach Borenstein and Garrett Weber hit consecutive singles to open the inning. However, the scoring chance vanished when the two got caught standing on second base. Mike Freeman lined back to Buchanan who dropped the ball before firing to second for the force of Weber. Borenstein, confused as to what happened, was tagged out on his way back to second.
Reno (8-11) did tie the game in the fourth thanks to three singles, but they ran themselves out of another potentially big inning. One-out knocks by Jamie Romak and Blake Lalli set up Borenstein for a two-out RBI single to right, but Lalli was cut down trying to reach third base on the play.
The Grizzlies (11-7) regained the lead for good in the home half behind some small ball. Blake Beavan (0-1) walked Jon Singleton to ignite the rally, and Andrew Aplin and Max Stassi fueled the fire with singles to make it 2-1. Nolan Fontana capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly into the left-field corner.
Fresno extended their lead to 4-1 in the fifth on Preston Tucker's Minor League leading eighth home run.
Reno's Peter O'Brien blasted his team-high seventh homer to begin the sixth, but scoring opportunities were squandered down the stretch. Nick Evans laced a double following O'Brien's drive, knocking Buchanan out of the game, but left-hander Darin Downs entered and retired the side to keep the Grizzlies in front by two.
The Aces' last hopes to tie or take the lead came in the eighth when they loaded the bases with two outs. Danny Worth's pinch-hit at-bat ended via strikeout, however, making Reno 1-for-15 with the bases juiced this season.
Kevin Chapman nailed down his first save for the Grizzlies with 1 2/3 innings of shutout relief.
The Aces out-hit Fresno 10-7 but went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Over their last 37 innings at the dish, Reno is 5-for-31 in those spots.
The finale of the four-game set is set for Tuesday morning in Fresno. Right-hander A.J. Schugel (0-2, 17.55) starts for the Aces against right-hander Dan Straily (2-0, 5.14). First pitch is scheduled for 11:05 a.m.