A.J. Silva had a day at the plate, going a perfect 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs in Reed’s 7-6 home win over North Valleys, a game that was postponed from Saturday. It also ended a streak of eight straight league losses by the Raiders, who last won a league game on March 31 against Damonte Ranch.
“Anytime we can get a win, we’re very happy,” Reed baseball coach Ray Charles said.
It didn’t look good initially for Reed.
North Valleys starting pitcher J.P. Vanemmerik lived on the outside corner and the Raiders looked baffled. The Panther lefty struck out the first five batters of the game until Jake Means’ two-out double in the bottom of the second. Means and Silva traded places when Silva sliced an RBI double down the right-field line, cutting the Panthers’ lead in half, 2-1.
North Valleys scored two runs in the top half of that same inning when leadoff hitter Justin O’Brien took advantage of the strong jet stream blowing toward the outfield by lofting a high fly ball that carried to the warning track in right field. O’Brien’s double plated a pair of runners.
Reed tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third. After No. 9 hitter Brett Chaney singled, Ryan Butler came to the plate and smoked a run-scoring triple to center field.
While Reed starting pitcher Jeff Copple dodged bullets in the first and third innings by getting out of jams with five runners stranded in those two innings combined, he couldn’t keep North Valleys off the scoreboard in the top of the fourth.
The visitors posted a three spot thanks two back-to-back doubles by Gage Clark and Schuyler Rullman, which pushed across a trio of runs for a 5-2 lead.
Copple buckled down from that point and let his offense get the Blue and Gold back in the game.
“I thought Jeff battled. Early on it looked like I’d have to go out there and get him,” Charles said. “He settled down and got his command. He worked out of a couple jams. He did a good job and started working ahead of hitters.”
Reed’s big inning came in the fourth also with the help of three Panther errors.
Tanner Parris led off with a base knock and eventually scored on Silva’s infield single. An error put a second runner on base for Butler, who skied a shot off the fence in right field to pick up his second and third RBIs of the game with a double. More importantly, it tied the game at 5-5.
A heads-up steal of third by Butler allowed him to score when Alex Young reached on an infield fielding error, putting the Raiders in front for the first time in the game, 6-5.
Silva knocked in what proved to be the game-winner in the bottom of the sixth. North Valleys’ outfield was playing him to go the other way. Instead, Silva went dead center with a screaming liner. Silva’s double allowed Means to score, making it a 7-5 score.
Copple was still on the mound in the seventh inning when the Panthers tried to mount a comeback. Reed’s ace left-hander struck out the first two batters of the seventh before getting into trouble. He loaded the bases with a single and two walks before handing the ball over to Means for him to shut the door.
North Valleys got one run on a wild pitch, but a groundout to second ended the game, giving Copple the win and Means the save.
Copple gave up six earned runs on 11 hits, while walking five and striking out 10. The Panthers left 10 runners on base, while Reed only stranded two.
Vanemmerik took the hard-luck loss. Five of the runs were earned and he allowed nine hits in 5 2-3 innings of work. He struck out 11 and only walked one.
“I don’t know if they scouted us, but he had good command of that outside corner and kept nailing it,” Charles said of Vanemmerik. “When you face a lefty and his ball is moving and his breaking ball is working, you have to make adjustments. He pitched good.”
O’Brien, Mauricio Varela and Mike Mendoza all chipped in with two hits for the Panthers in the losing cause.
Reed (9-15, 4-11 in Northern 4A) concludes its High Desert League series with North Valleys today at 3:45 p.m. at the north Reno school.