Reno Aces lose MVP Christian Walker — and the game
Fresno Grizzlies shortstop Jack Mayfield had a grand-slammin’ day during their 15-8 mauling over the Reno Aces on Saturday.
Mayfield finished 3-for-4 with a grand-slam, double, and 5 RBIs. On the season, Mayfield is hitting a scorching .455 with two homers for the World Champion Houston Astros’ Triple-A team. It is the third-straight season that Mayfield has hit a grand-slam. His latest victim was Aces reliever Tony Pill, who served a high slider in the fifth inning.
Meanwhile, Aces center fielder Socrates Brito tied the franchise record for hits in a game, going 5-for-5 with five singles and one RBI.
The Grizzlies won their first game of the year after dropping the first two of the five-game series.
Just before the game, Reno first baseman Christian Walker, the 2017 Pacific Coast League’s MVP, was recalled to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He played 12 games with the Aces’ Major League affiliate in late September last season. Pitcher Matt Koch was sent down to Reno. He will join the team Tuesday in Sacramento when the Aces face the Rivercats, the San Francisco Giant’s affiliate.
On Sunday, first baseman Cody Decker was moved up to Reno from the Double-A Jackson Generals. Decker, 31, was a 22nd round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2009. [pullquote]On Sunday, first baseman Cody Decker was moved up to Reno from the Double-A Jackson Generals[/pullquote]He can also play third base, left field and catcher. He homered in his first game with the Aces, putting him just 11 shy of 200 career home runs. The Aces lost, 9-4, setting up a rubber match in Monday’s final game of the five game home stand.
On a cold and windy Saturday evening at Greater Nevada Field, two former big leaguers toed the rubber. The game lasted 3 hours, 58 minutes.
Fresno’s starting pitcher Francis Martes, who was 5-2 in 32 games for the Astros last season, pitched 3.2 innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits and five walks with six strikeouts.
Reno countered with Kris Medlen, a seven-year MLB veteran who started a total of 75 games with the Atlanta Braves (2009-2013) and Kansas City Royals (2015-2016). Medlen’s best season came in 2013, finishing 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA and 157 strikeouts.
The quick feet of Fresno’s second baseman Tony Kemp scurried to home plate off a ground out to short from Tyler White, giving the Grizzlies an early 1-0 lead.
Medlen’s shaky start on the mound only got worse in the third inning when Kyle Tucker and White both lined RBI singles to shallow center field. Add a sacrifice fly from A.J. Reed and the Aces found themselves in a 4-0 hole. Medlen’s outing didn’t last much longer, as he was relieved by Pill. Medlen pitched three innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits and four walks with three strikeouts.
Jon Kemmer padded Fresno’s lead with a 390 foot solo-shot to deep right field, marking his 35th career homer with the Grizzlies.
In the fifth inning, Reno’s $10 million man Yasmany Tomas (0-5 with 4 strikeouts) could only watch Mayfield’s towering 412 foot grand slam as it flew over the left field wall to give Fresno a commanding 9-3 lead. The Aces chipped into their deficit in the fifth and sixth innings with RBI doubles to right-center field from Anthony Recker and Marcus Littlewood, bringing three-runs to the plate.
Ultimately, Reno’s intense comeback fell short after an RBI double from Reed put the lead back-up to three for Fresno. There is positive news for the Aces though, as the 3,801 fans in attendance won free gelato off an RBI single from Robertson for their seventh run of the game.
For Reno, key performers included: Recker (2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI), Littlewood (2-3, 2B, 3 RBI), and Robertson (1-3, 2 RBI).
For the fourth-game of the five-game series, right-hander Albert Suarez of the 2-1 Aces will go toe-to-toe against righty Rogelio Armenteros of Fresno. The game is slated for 1:05 p.m. with thankfully sunny skies called for tomorrow.
ABOUT Isaiah Burrows
Tahoe Onstage sportswriter Isaiah Burrows also is a general assignment reporter for CarsonNow.org, an online news source in Carson City. He is a journalism major at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he writes sports for the Sagebrush student newspaper. He is the Reno Aces beat writer for Tahoe Onstage.