Reno Aces slugger Kevin Cron connected three times in a 14-4 thrashing of the Salt Lake Bees on Wednesday night.
Cron had three homers and seven RBIs, both career-highs. He and Socrates Brito launched consecutive back-to-back home runs in back-to-back innings for the first time in the Aces 10-year history.
Cron’s first homer was off of a hanging cutter. It traveled 434-feet to left center in the second inning. He made an adjustment the next at-bat, unleashing an opposite-field homer to deep right. His third was a grand slam to deep left field off of Francisco Arcia, normally a catcher.
“I was just trying to see the ball well and do the fundamentals,” Cron said. “I felt pretty good during (batting practice) earlier today and I’m happy it carried over to tonight’s game.”
The wind at Greater Nevada Field isn’t a mystery to anyone, and Brito knows how to use it. What would be a warning track flyout in a majority of minor league parks turned into a pair of homers over the Aces’ bullpen.
Jabari Blash went 3-for-3 — all homers, including a 443-foot blast over to left-center. Blash has a unique batting approach. He raises his left knee above his jersey letters as he times the pitch. Blash stands alone atop the PCL with 22 home runs on the season and slugging percentage .795. But he has struggled in his short time with the Angeles this year, batting just .111 in seven games.
Nine homers were launched by four players in front of a paid attendance of 3,324. The Aces have taken two-straight games from division-leading Salt Lake.
“We just need to keep playing consistently,” Cron said. “If we keep producing on both sides, we will keep moving up the standings.”
The Bees’ starting pitcher, Luis Pena served some high fastballs to Kristopher Negron and Yasmany Tomas to jump on with clean rips up the middle. Pena lasted three innings, giving up six runs on nine hits and three walks with one strikeout.
While the offense was buzzing for Reno, Anthony Vasquez was taking the sting out of the Bees’ bats. The southpaw had six strikeouts through four frames. He picked up his fifth win of the season, pitching six strong innings while surrendering three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts.
Salt Lake opened the game with a two-run first. Reno answered with three runs in the second and third. They opened the flood gates with a five-run eighth inning.
It was all fun and games by the fourth inning when Ildemaro Vargas, the team leader in assists, helped a young contestant roll his tire to the third base line during the Big O Tires Tire Race.
Ray returns to his old form in Arizona: Dbacks Ace Robbie Ray made his return to Arizona after a rib injury placed him on the disabled list. The southpaw pitched six-shutout innings, with six strikeouts, in a 2-1 Diamondbacks victory over the Miami Marlins, improving to 3-0 with Arizona. In a rehab assignment on June 19, Ray tied the Aces’ season-high with nine strikeouts in 4.1 innings.
Notes: As a team, Reno is batting .277, good for fifth in the PCL. … On the season, the Aces have scored 407 runs and recorded 79 home runs. … Reno has scored 27 runs on 32 hits over their last two games.
On Deck: Reno (36-43) will play the fourth and final game against Salt Lake (44-35) Thursday. The Aces starting pitcher will be Austin Mason has been called up to the Aces from the Single-A California League, where he has a 2-4 record in 24 games, all in relief. Ivan Pineyro, who is 2-5 in nine starts with Salt Lake, will be on the hill for the Bees. The game starts at 7:05 p.m.
– Isaiah Burrows