Biggest Little Moments: Reno Aces Opening Day recap

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Braden Shipley won two Opening Day games for the Aces.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage file photos

The Reno Aces are quite familiar with baseball’s historic tradition: Opening Day.

It is a time for fans and players to gather on the diamond to celebrate the beginning of a new season.

The Aces were scheduled to have Opening Day against the Sacramento River Cats at Greater Nevada Field today, April 9, at 1:05 p.m. before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on the season.

Regardless, the Aces have several memorable Opening Day moments since the Triple-A club settled in downtown Reno in 2009.

Reno is 7-4 on Opening Day. Here is how the Aces fared on season openers over the past 11 seasons. 

April 10, 2009 at Salt Lake

The Aces fell to the Salt Lake Bees 6-2 in their franchise debut. Anthony Ortega picked up the win for Salt Lake. Tony Barnette was tagged with the loss for Reno. Opening Day was scheduled to take place on April 9, but the game was postponed due to the death of Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Nick Adenhart, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver earlier in the day. Adenhart was a member of the Bees in 2008. The Aces recorded their first-ever home win against Salt Lake on April 17 at Greater Nevada Field.

April 8, 2010 vs. Fresno

Reno topped the Fresno Grizzlies, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, 5-4, on Opening Day at Greater Nevada Field. Jeff Bailey went 2-for-5 with a solo home run in the win. Bailey launched 12 home runs on the year, second to Brandon Allen with 25. Future three-time World Series champion Madison Bumgarner toed the rubber for the Grizzlies on April 9. 

April 9, 2011 at Salt Lake

For the second time in three years, the Aces fell to Salt Lake 8-1 on Opening Day. The two scheduled contests on April 7-8 were postponed due to rain and snow showers. Reno made its first playoff appearance this season, but fell to the Sacramento River Cats, then the Oakland A’s Triple-A team, in the fifth and deciding game.

Barry Enright pitched for the Aces on Opening Day in 2012. /David Calvert Photography

April 5, 2012 vs. Colorado Springs

It was a frigid 35-degree night at Greater Nevada Field when the Aces topped the Colorado Springs Sky Sox 5-2 on the coldest Opening Day in team history. A.J. Pollock went 2-for-3 with a double and RBI. Pollock made his MLB debut with the Diamondbacks on April 18 and played seven seasons with Arizona. Starting pitcher Barry Enright picked up the win for Reno. Enright’s 17 wins with the Aces are fifth-most in team history. A pair of big-league starters in Trevor Bauer and Patrick Corbin also suited up for the Aces.

Aces outfielder Adam Eaton was named 2012 Pacific Coast League MVP, hitting .381 with  46 doubles, 45 RBIs and 38 stolen bases. Eaton has appeared in 790 MLB games over his 10-year career. He hit two home runs to help the Washington Nationals win the 2019 World Series over the Houston Astros. 

Reno made another post-season trip in 2012 and defeated the River Cats in five games. The Aces swept the Omaha Storm Chasers in four games to take home the Pacific Coast League Championship. The Aces topped-off their memorable season with a 10-3 victory over the Pawtucket Red Sox to win the Triple-A National Championship Game. It marked the lone Triple-A Championship in franchise history. 

April 4, 2013 at Colorado Springs

Reno opened the 2013 campaign with another victory, topping the Sky Sox 5-4 at Security Service Field. The Aces hosted the 2013 Triple-A All-Star Game on July 17, 2013. A paid attendance of 10,135 fans filled Greater Nevada Field as the International League beat the Pacific Coast League 5-4. 

Aces shortstop Chris Owings was a 2013 PCL All-Star and won the PCL MVP award that same season, batting .330 with 12 homers and 81 RBIs in 125 games. Owings has totaled 646 games in the Major Leagues over his 11-year career. He played with the Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox last season.

Owings and Eaton also marked the first back-to-back PCL MVP winners in franchise history. 

April 3, 2014 vs. El Paso

The Aces lost the season opener to the El Paso Chihuahuas, Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, 7-5 at Greater Nevada Field. Reno surrendered 17 hits on the day, the most for a home opener.

The Aces won the PCL Pacific North Division and clinched their second PCL Conference Championship over the Las Vegas 51s. Reno advanced and lost to the Omaha Storm Chasers in the finals.

Reno first baseman Mike Jacobs hit 25 homers with a team-high 99 RBIs. He was named to the 2014 PCL All-Star Team. His 55 home runs are tied with Allen for second in franchise history.

Shortstop Nick Ahmed played 104 games in an Aces uniform that season. Ahmed has manned the infield in Arizona over six seasons and won back-to-back Gold Glove awards. He signed a four-year extension with the Dbacks this offseason.

Ahmed wasn’t the only future big-league infielder with the Aces. Didi Gregorius had 57 starts with Reno in 2014 and hit .310 with 14 doubles and 26 stolen bases. Gregorius’ powerful left-handed swing has launched 110 home runs with the Dbacks and New York Yankees. He signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason.

Tahoe Onstage
Dbacks pitcher Robbie Ray returned to Greater Nevada Field oin June 2018 for a rehab outing.
Tahoe Onstage photo by Michael Smyth

April 9, 2015 at Albuquerque

Reno won its season opener 8-2 against the Albuquerque Isotopes, the new Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Outfielder Peter O’Brien went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. O’Brien finished the season with 26 homers, 35 doubles and 107 RBIs to earn his first PCL All-Star appearance. His 50 home runs with the Aces are fourth tied for fourth in franchise history.

Aces third baseman Jamie Romak was the second PCL All-Star. Romak hit .284 with 27 homers and 100 RBIs to form a powerful combination with O’Brien at the plate. On the mound, southpaw Robbie Ray sported a 3.67 ERA in nine starts with the Aces. Ray has 146 starts over six seasons with the Detroit Tigers and Diamondbacks.

Reno Aces
Jack Reinheimer has a big swing and a long name.

April 7, 2016 vs. El Paso 

Archie Bradley helped the Aces get revenge on the Chihuahuas in a 8-0 victory at Greater Nevada Field. The right-hander surrendered just two hits with seven strikeouts over six scoreless innings. Bradley has switched from a starter to a mid-inning reliever with the Diamondbacks. He sported a 3.52 ERA in 66 games with Arizona last season.

Reno utility man Jack Reinheimer went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs. In three seasons with the Aces, Reinheimer ranks fourth all-time in games played (311), fourth in hits (323), fifth in runs (177) and seventh in doubles (56). 

Tahoe Onstage
Christian Walker had plenty of round trips between Reno and Arizona before sticking in the big leagues for good in 2019.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

April 6, 2017 at El Paso

The Aces won back-to-back season openers against El Paso with a 13-6 victory at Southwest University Park. UNR alum Braden Shipley earned the win, giving up six runs with six strikeouts in five innings. Shipley’s 25 wins are the most in franchise history, passing Charles Brewer with 24. The 28-year-old signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals on Dec. 17.

Reno First baseman Christian Walker took home the 2017 PCL MVP award. Walker batted .309 with 32 homers and a league-best 114 RBIs. The 29-year-old hit a career-high 29 homers and 73 RBIS in 152 games with the Dbacks last season.

Walker, Oswaldo Arcia, Ildemaro Vargas and pitcher Jimmie Sherfy were four Aces selected to the 2017 PCL All-Star team. A franchise-high 210 roster transactions between Arizona and Reno were made in the process.

One of those transactions was infielder Ketel Marte being called-up to the Dbacks. Marte appeared in 70 games with the Aces in 2017, hitting .388 with six homers and 41 RBIs. Marte has made a permanent stay in Arizona and earned his first MLB All-Star appearance in 2019.

Reno finished the year with a 80-62 record to clinch the PCL Northern Division. The Aces were swept by El Paso in the PCL Conference Championship. 

Yasmany Tomas became the highest paid Triple-A player in 2018.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

April 8, 2018 vs. Fresno

A five-run second inning propelled the Aces past the Fresno Grizzlies 10-2 on Opening Day at Greater Nevada Field. Walker and Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomás each smashed one home run. Shipley notched his second Opening Day win on the mound. 

Reno had an explosive offensive 2018 campaign. The aces recorded 1,377 hits and 156 home runs. Several players achieved milestones in the process. Vargas had a 35-game hit streak, a record for consecutive games with a hit at any level in the Dbacks’ farm system.  

2018 also marked the Aces debut of first baseman Kevin Cron. Cron hit 22 home runs and 97 RBIs in 104 games to earn an All-PCL appearance with Vargas. Reno finished the season with a 72-68 for second place in the PCL Northern Division. 

Former Giants shortstop Kelby Tomlinson opened the season in Reno.

April 4, 2019 at Fresno

Reno lost its season opener 5-4 to Fresno at Chukchansi Park. Joey Krehbiel was tagged with the loss. Domingo Leyba went 3-for-5 with a triple and RBI. Cron cranked a solo home run.

Led by plenty of power at the plate, Reno hit a franchise-best 242 home runs in 2019. Cron’s 38 homers led the PCL to go along with 105 RBIs and a 1.226 OPS. He surpassed Allen and Jacobs for first place on Reno’s all-time home runs list with 60.

Illdemaro Vargas and Kevin Cron head toward the dugout.

Cron joined Tomás and Sherfy as three Aces selected to the PCL All-Star game. Tomás had 29 homers on the year and won the 2019 Triple-A Home Run Derby at Southwest University Park in El Paso, Texas.

Of all the round-trippers the Aces hit, none was more memorable than Cody Decker’s walk-off homer against the Sacramento River Cats. On July 5, Decker lifted a hanging slider over the left-centerfield scoreboard to give the Aces a 10-9 win. It marked the final at-bat of his 11-year career full of laughs, homers and signature “arm explosions” with 13 different professional baseball clubs.

“It was a really special night and one of the best of my career,” Decker told Tahoe Onstage last season. “It’s something I’ll never forget. The fact I got to share it with these teammates, you can’t beat it.”

The Aces are still waiting for a potential Opening Day to arrive this season, but there are plenty of memories left on the field. 

— Isaiah Burrows

Cody Decker’s minor league career ended in storybook fashion.

Reno Aces showcase new ‘Biggest Little City’ baseball cap

Reno skipper Chris Cron spotted with the Aces new on-field cap. /Reno Aces

After consulting local ambassadors and drawing from community landmarks, the Reno Aces announced the much-anticipated release of an alternate on-field hat today to pay homage to “The Biggest Little City in the World.”

The cap and logo are a mix of old and new – to celebrate the rich city pride of Reno.The “BLC” across the fitted New Era cap is in reference to Reno’s “Biggest Little City in the World” nickname which dates back to the early 1900s, while the font used is modeled after the new Reno arch located on North Virginia Street.

The star atop of the logo, not only draws from the current arch but is in respect to clear Nevada skies and city art such as
the “Reno Star Cosmic Thistle.” The hat uses the Aces color scheme, yet draws its dominant hue from the red suits of a traditional deck of cards.

“Reno has accepted our team and myself personally as they have with so many others. Our city has been through a lot
and we will persevere and succeed again and again because of our pride in community,” Aces President Eric Edelstein said in a press statement. “This is our home and we wanted to create a hat that represents not just Aceball but all of you who make our community special.”

In addition to the on-field hat, limited edition BLC city pride gear is currently available online at the Reno Aces Team Shop. Get yourself an authentic BLC on-field alternate hat, an adjustable BLC hat, a BLC t-shirt, or pre-order a BLC sweatshirt.

Act fast as the team store is offering free shipping on orders $40 or more from April 9 through April 12 at 11:59 p.m. Visit renoaces.com for more information.

Andy Young with the Aces new on-field cap. /Reno Aces
Ben DeLuzio with the Aces new on-field cap. /Reno Aces

— Jake Trybulski, Reno Aces

ABOUT Isaiah Burrows

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 is the sports editor of the Sagebrush student newspaper. He is the Reno Aces beat writer for Tahoe Onstage.

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