Walker’s home run streak continues; Aces even series

Tahoe Onstage
Christian Walker hit his fourth homer in four games against the Iowa Cubs on Thursday.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Reno Aces slugger Christian Walker is launching baseballs at an extreme rate, and it cost the Iowa Cubs  on Thursday.

Walker went 4-for-5 with two RBIs in the Aces 11-4 win. He has homered in four-straight games. Walker’s 39 career round-trippers are third all-time in Aces’ history. After a slow start, his average is bumped up to .282 with seven homers and 24 RBIs.

“For the kind of hitter I am, and where I’m at in the order (third), I am always looking to deal some damage,” Walker said. “I am starting to open my approach to not chase after anything and stay with pitches in the zone. So, I’m just trying to keep it simple, not too fancy.”

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Taylor Clarke won his 7th game.

The reigning Pacific Coast League MVP’s power is on full display in the Biggest Little City, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have taken notice, Walker has been called up three times this season. He has three hits, including a home run, in 17 at bats with the big-league club. More back-and-forth trips may take place, as Walker is in the final year of his minor-league option.

Primarily a first baseman, Walker is developing as an outfielder. He played left field on Thursday night. The Dbacks starting first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, a right-hand hitter as is Walker, is a perennial all-star who recently was named National League Player of the Week.

“No matter where I’m at, the main focus is to win,” Walker said. “I just need to keep improving as a player and make those necessary adjustments and hope that translates to wins as the season goes along.”

The Aces continued their hot hitting ways with 15 more, enough to reward the 3,999 fans in attendance a free Jumbo Jack. Right fielder Socrates Brito, who’s batting .344, went a perfect 4-for-4 with four RBIs and shortstop Idelmaro Vargas extended his hitting streak to 13 games in a 3-for-5 performance.

Prized Dbacks’ prospect Taylor Clarke pitched his way to a team-leading seventh win. Clarke, 25, went seven strong innings, allowing four runs on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts.

Iowa’s Mike Freeman returned to Greater Nevada Field on a cool summer night. The 30-year-old is fifth all-time in Aces’ history in games played (272), fourth in hits (301) and second in triples (18). Freeman finished 0-for-4.

Reno jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning with RBIs from Brito, first baseman Kevin Cron and catcher Michael Perez. Cron’s sacrifice fly marked his 32nd  of the season, tying him with Anthony Recker atop the Aces’ leaderboard. Iowa second baseman David Bote responded with a 413-foot blast to left field, cutting their deficit 4-2.

Runs in the fourth in the fifth inning gave the Aces a 6-2 lead, but Iowa answered with a two-run blast from Jacob Hannemann in the seventh. Reno’s bats cleaned up the mess with five more runs, forcing the Cubs to wave the white flag on Flag Night. Fresh off the disabled list with elbow inflammation, Dbacks reliever Randall Delgado pitched 1.2 innings with one strikeout in an MLB rehab appearance.

Notes: Pitcher Taylor Clarke, who finished 1-for-4 at the plate, leads the Aces pitchers with six hits on the season. … Reno is 5-5 all-time in games played on June 14. …  The Aces have a combined 27 hits and 18 runs scored in the past two games. … Four pitchers combined on a no-hitter for The Dback’s Double-A Jackson Generals, who won 6-0 over the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

On Deck: Reno (31-36) will look win the series with Iowa (25-39) on Friday. The Aces Anthony Vasquez will face against Trevor Clifton. The game is a 7:05 p.m. start.

-Isaiah Burrows

Tahoe Onstage
Three-year-old Austin Jose “A.J.” Vargas runs on the field to greet his father, Ildemero Vargas, the Aces shortstop. Dad’s hitting streak improved to 13 games as he went 3-for-5.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tahoe Onstage
Vargas extends his hitting streak to 13 with this first-inning hit to right-field.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tahoe Onstage
Taylor Clarke leads the Aces in wins.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tahoe Onstage
Cubs infielder David Bote is congratulated after smacking his 10th home run Wednesday.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tahoe Onstage
Bote turns a double play against Socrates Brito and the Aces.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tahoe Onstage
Reno’s starting battery — Taylor Clarke and Michael Perez — go over charts with pitching coach Gil Heredia before the game.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
One of the Reno Aces all-time greats, Mike Freeman now wears Cub blue.
Tahoe Onstage
Socrates Brito has a bead on the ball as Rey Fuentes backs him up.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Mustard breaks away from Hot Dog and the Cubs are shocked.

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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