The Reno Aces back-and-forth game one against the Fresno Grizzlies ended in an eight to five Reno victory Friday night at Chukchansi Park. The Aces plated runs in all but two innings in the three-plus hour contest. All-Star Christian Walker collected his 22nd home run with his 87th RBI on his multi-hit performance while Jeremy Hazelbaker and Jack Reinheimer collected three-hit nights. Matt Koch earned his first win since coming off of the disabled list with six solid innings. With the win, the Aces extend their Pacific North division lead to seven games and are now 20 games over the .500 mark.
In the first inning, the Aces broke through with the 1-0 lead after a little help from Fresno starter David Martinez. Martinez surrendered a walk to three of the first four batters to load the bases with one out, which led to Zach Borenstein's sacrifice fly ball to deep left field to score leadoff batter Hazelbaker from third base. After an uneventful second inning, Reno added on a second run again coming in thanks to the red-hot Borenstein. With one out, after Ildemaro Vargas singled and Oswaldo Arcia walked with both moving into scoring position on Walker's fly out, Borenstein knocked an infield single to record the Aces second run and his second RBI of the contest.
In the Grizzlies third, they made it a ballgame when they tied the contest on three two-out hits off of Aces starter Koch, including a solo home run by Tony Kemp. Then, after the Aces came back with a run in the top of the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Hazelbaker and Vargas, the tide of momentum shifted again as Fresno took their first lead 4-3 of the game in the bottom half after Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run home run.
Down by a run in the fifth, Walker cleared the difference with his 22nd home run of the 2017 campaign to tie the ballgame at 4-4 and collected his 87th RBI before the All-Star break, which leads all of Major and Minor League Baseball.
After two lead changes in the contest, Fresno sparked a third as Fresno reclaimed the advantage in the bottom of the fifth. Grizzlies' Jon Kemmer and Colin Moran got the half started with back-to-back singles to set up runners on the corners with no out. Third baseman Tyler White followed up with a sacrifice fly ball to deep left field to make it a 5-4 Fresno lead.
To keep the back-and-forth rhythm alive, Reno came back in the sixth inning to tie the game at five apiece thanks to Vargas' no-out groundout to score Hank Conger after he singled to lead off the inning and was followed by a Hazelbaker single. Then, in the seventh, after Fresno was zeroed by Aces reliever Jared Miller after three straight innings, the Aces rallied with two more runs to take a 7-5 lead, marking the fourth lead change of the game. Reno added their eighth and final run in the top half of the eighth frame after Walker singled to advance Vargas and scored on a throwing error.
Miller, who made his 2017 debut with the Aces, totaled two stellar innings, allowing just one hit while striking out five Grizzlies batters. Jimmie Sherfy tossed a quick ninth inning and collected his 12th save.
The Aces continue into games two and three tomorrow against the Fresno Grizzlies in a scheduled doubleheader starting at 5:05 p.m. at Chukchansi Park. After the Fresno series, the All-Star break begins with home run derby including Christian Walker on Monday, July 10 and the 2017 Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 13.
Reno next returns home to Greater Nevada Field next Thursday, July 13 with a four-game series against the El Paso Chihuahuas.