Making his first start for the Aces after being traded from the Chicago White Sox, Gaby Hernandez didn’t fare well initially. Luckily, for the home crowd of 5,210 that was hoping Reno would get back to its winning ways, Hernandez settled down and was able to dodge several bullets.
Tucson leadoff hitter Steve Tolleson opened the game by putting a charge into a ball that carried to deep right-center field and bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. With one out, Aaron Cunningham singled to right-center field, driving in the game’s first run. The 1-0 lead was the only one Tucson would enjoy.
Reno took advantage of a one-out walk from Padres starter Will Inman in the home team’s half of the first inning.
Collin Cowgill drew a base on balls and came all the way to score from first on Peña’s two-out double to right field. Peña was thrown out at third trying to stretch his run-scoring hit into a triple. Still, it tied the game at 1-1.
Hernandez got out of trouble in the second after Tucson loaded the bases on a single by Jarrett Hoffpauir and two walks. But the Padres came away empty-handed. Tucson left 12 runners on base.
Then it was the Aces’ turn to see what they could do with the bases juiced. While Tucson didn’t saturate the sacks until there were two outs, Reno benefited from putting its first three batters of the second inning on base safely.
A Cole Gillespie single was sandwiched by walks to Brandon Allen and Lucas May. A groundout to second base by Mark Hallberg allowed Allen to come home, giving the hosts a 2-1 edge. However, that was the only run Reno would muster in the inning.
The Padres had another chance to do some damage in the top of the third, but again left the bases loaded.
The Aces didn’t miss out on their opportunities in the bottom of the third, scoring three runs on four hits to grab a 5-1 advantage.
Cody Ransom started the rally with a single to left field. Peña followed with his second double of the night, a shot to center field that drove in Ransom.
Allen sent a single to right field, knocking in Peña.
Gillespie capped a string of four straight hits to start the inning with a base hit to left field, leaving runners on first and second with no outs.
Two batters later, Hallberg picked up his second RBI on another infield groundout. Allen touched home on the play, handing Reno a 5-1 lead.
Tolleson cut the deficit to 5-2 when he cleared the left-center field wall with a solo homer with one out in the fourth frame.
In the bottom of the fourth, Tony Abreu extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single through the right side, the ninth time the Aces have had a player with a double-digit hit streak this season.
Cowgill walked on four straight balls, pushing Abreu into scoring position. A groundout moved both runners up 90 feet.
During an at-bat that saw Allen battle Inman for 12 pitches, a wild pitch in the dirt allowed Abreu to scamper home for a 6-2 score.
Hernandez handed the ball over after working five innings. He allowed two runs on eight hits while walking four and striking four. He left with a 6-2 lead and was in line for the win.
It didn’t take long for the Aces bullpen to almost spoil Hernandez’s debut.
Randy Hamrick took over on the mound and proceeded to walk Luis Durango and give up hits to Tolleson and Andy Parino, loading the bases with no outs.
Cunningham, who had three hits in his first three plate appearances, struck out swinging for the first out. Then, Hamrick induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, protecting the 6-2 cushion.
Reno just kept tacking on more runs. With two runners on in the bottom of the sixth, Peña launched a three-run shot that everyone knew was gone on contact, increasing the lead to 9-2 on Peña’s 21st home run of the season. He went 4-for-5 with five RBI and two runs scored.
Following Hamrick, Jason Urquidez, Rafael Rodriguez and Yhency Brazoban all pitched scoreless innings of relief to seal the victory for Hernandez.
Tolleson was a triple away from hitting for the cycle for the visiting Padres, who outhit the Aces 12-10.
Today is the final game of the four-game series as Reno right-hander Barry Enright (4-2, 3.29 ERA) is slated to take on RHP Jon Leicester (3-2, 5.95 ERA).