Peter O’Brien belted two home runs and added a triple for good measure as the Reno Aces hammered the Las Vegas 51s with a 9-0 victory Friday night at Greater Nevada Field. O’Brien’s multi-homer game was his second of the season and ninth of his career, and he drove in four RBI to match his season high set from Wednesday’s walk-off grand slam. The victory gave the Aces the series win over the 51s and removed any sour taste from Thursday night’s late collapse.
Facing 51s left-hander Sean Gilmartin, Aces skipper Phil Nevin rolled out a lineup with nine right-handed batters. Reno (27-27), who entered with a collective .295 clip against southpaws, raked out eight hits against Gilmartin over 5 2/3 innings.
Leading off for the first time in 2016, Jack Reinheimer (@Reinheimer_08) opened the bottom of the first with a sharp single to left. Following a groundout and strikeout, Kyle Jensen continued his hot hitting with a single of his own to left, scoring a hustling Reinheimer from second.
Aces starter Andrew Chafin – making his first start since September 23, 2014 – breezed through three perfect innings before handing over to Edgar Garcia in the fourth. Before Garcia took the mound, O’Brien launched his first of two homers, bringing in Reinheimer and Sean Jamieson (@SeanJay04) in the home half of the third.
And the Aces’ slugger was just getting started.
O’Brien opened the fifth with a deep drive to the alley in left-center, one-hopping the wall for his fourth triple of the season. The 25-year-old then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jensen, pushing Reno’s advantage to five.
The 51s’ (28-26) pitching staff couldn’t contain O’Brien and the Aces’ offense again in the sixth. Gilmartin issued a leadoff walk to Carlos Rivero (@Carlos_Rivero3) and Tuffy Gosewisch (@santiagosewisch) singled, setting up a four-run inning for Reno. Following a strikeout, Reinheimer walked to load the bases for Jamieson who plated Reno’s sixth run on a groundout to short.
With two runners in scoring position and two outs, Las Vegas manager Wally Backman summoned right-hander Stolmy Pimentel from the bullpen to face O’Brien. Pimentel furthered the damage with a wild pitch, a play which resulted in both Gosewisch and Reinheimer scoring. The latter sprinted in on a dropped catch error by Pimentel who covered the dish when Gosewisch scored.
Moments later, O’Brien played long ball again. On the seventh pitch of Pimentel’s battle with the Pacific Coast League’s home run leader, O’Brien squared up a fastball and cleared the wall in dead center for his Minor League-leading 15th blast.
Reinheimer and O’Brien’s multi-hit performances pushed their season totals in that category to 20 apiece, pacing the 2016 squad. The duo each scored three times as well.
Garcia (2-2) sealed Reno’s third shutout of the season with six scoreless innings in relief of Chafin. He scattered six hits with two walks and five strikeouts. The 28-year-old escaped his biggest test in the fourth, leaving the bases loaded with a routine groundout to second.
The Aces continue their eight-game homestand with the opener of a four-game set on Saturday night against the Salt Lake Bees at Greater Nevada Field. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. PT. Reno will send right-hander Matt Buschmann (1-5, 5.29) to the bump, while righty Kyle McGowin (2-2, 3.60) will toe the rubber for Las Vegas.