Edwin Escobar dealt seven innings of one-run ball, Sócrates Brito (@SocratesBrito) homered for a second time on Reno’s current 12-game road trip and Peter O’Brien smashed his Pacific Coast League-leading 11th home run to guide the Aces past the Sacramento River Cats, 8-2, Thursday night at Raley Field.
The victory provided Reno with its first three-game winning streak and road series win of 2016.
Facing Sacramento starter Joan Gregorio in his Triple-A debut, the Aces (15-18) greeted the PCL-newcomer kindly in the first. Gregorio began his debut with a strikeout, but Mike Freeman (@MikeBFree5) and O’Brien clubbed consecutive doubles to put the Aces in front, 1-0.
O’Brien sparked another rally in the fourth with a single before Brito ripped a 3-2 offering from Gregorio to the grass berm beyond the right-field wall for a two-run shot, pushing Reno’s lead to three.
Unlike Gregorio, Escobar pitched like a seasoned PCL veteran. The southpaw, making his third start for Reno since the D-backs claimed him off waivers from the Red Sox in late April, bookended his start in impressive fashion. He retired 10 straight River Cats to begin his outing, and after yielding one run in the fifth, sat down the final seven batters he faced, continuing Reno’s rotation dominance over the past two weeks.
The River Cats (13-22) plated their first run on an infield single by Hak-Ju Lee. Preceding the River Cats’ rally was a brief cat delay in the middle of the fifth when a cat ran loose on the first-base warning track in front of Reno’s dugout. The cat was eventually captured and returned to safety.
More importantly, Escobar (1-0) regained his composure in the sixth. The lefty erased the River Cats in the ensuing two frames, setting up Cody Hall (@C_Hall18) who gave up one earned run over the final two innings.
Leading 3-1 through six, the Aces added five runs of insurance over their last three at-bats. An infield single by Jason Bourgeois (@jbourgeois11) scored Sean Jamieson (@SeanJay04) in the seventh to make it 4-1. O’Brien’s homer and a Jamieson run-scoring fielder’s choice came in the eighth, pushing the lead to five. Sacramento answered in the bottom half with a run, but Freeman and O’Brien added one last shake of salt to the wound in the ninth with consecutive RBI knocks, providing the final margin of 8-2.
The Aces pounded out 13 hits en route to their largest win since a 13-5 drubbing of El Paso on April 16. O’Brien led the charge with four hits and three RBI in five at-bats, falling a triple shy of the cycle. Brito recorded his second three-hit game in an Aces uniform, and Freeman notched his 12th multi-hit game of the season.
Reno concludes its 12-game road trip Friday night with the finale of a four-game series at Sacramento. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PT. Reno will send right-hander Tyler Wagner (1-3, 2.91) to the bump, while the River Cats have not yet named a starter.