On Star Wars Night, starting pitchers Taylor Clarke and Jesse Scholtens dimmed the lights from the batting sabers Saturday as the Reno Aces outdueled the El Paso Chihuahuas 2-1 at Greater Nevada Field.
Winning pitcher Clarke pitched a two-hitter through seven innings, allowing just one run and one walk with nine strikeouts. The 2015 third-round selection picked up his third win of the season and is atop the Aces leaderboard with 41 strikeouts.
In his first Triple-A outing, Scholtens, who is from nearby Fairfield, California, went 6.2 innings, surrendering two runs on five hits and one walk with two strikeouts. The 6-foot-4 right-hander was 4-1 with a 2.80 ERA, 45 strikeouts, and seven walks in 35 innings for the San Diego Padres Double-A team, the San Antonio Missions. A ninth-round pick in the 2016 MLB draft, Scholtens played two seasons for Wright State in Dayton, Ohio.
Offensively, 2017 Pacific Coast League MVP Christian Walker returned to his familiar form in Reno in front of 6,374 fans, many in Star Wars garb, finishing 2-for-3 with a double and towering home run.
“I was just trying to keep it simple tonight,” Walker said. “The most important thing was to trying to get in rhythm early at the plate. Thankfully, it all worked out and we got the win.”
Kevin Cron’s fourth RBI of the year provided the Aces a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Over his last three games since returning from the disabled list, the 2017 Double-A Jackson Generals MVP is hitting .444 with a homer.
Clarke’s no-hit bid ended in the fourth inning when Franmil Reyes launched his PCL leading 14th homer and 37th RBI to the green belt in deep right field, knotting the game 1-1. Clarke scored seven punch outs through four innings.
Scholtens then held the Aces’ offense hitless for three innings before Clarke got a piece of him with an infield single in the fifth. Walker got a bigger piece in the sixth inning with a 487-foot blast over the scoreboard in deep left field, putting Reno up 2-1.
The Aces’ bullpen took care of business from there. Bradin Hagens recorded his first save since 2010.
Ace in the Show: Troy Scribner made his first big leagues outing this season for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. The right-hander pitched 3.2 innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits and six walks with four strikeouts. Scribner was 2-1 with a 5.68 ERA with the Aces this season.
Notes: Cody Decker’s 195 minor league home runs puts him in third among active minor league players. Decker has seven with the Aces … El Paso’s Franmil Reyes is batting .346, which places him 11th among batters in the PCL.
On Deck: Reno’s four-game series with El Paso continues Sunday when MLB veteran Clay Buchholz (1-1) faces El Paso’s Dillon Overton (1-0). Buchholz holds a 4.01 ERA and 904 strikeouts over his 11-year career. His most memorable moment occurred in his second start in 2007 when he no-hit the Baltimore Orioles as a member of the Boston Red Sox. The game starts at 1:05 p.m.
– Isaiah Burrows