“Our pitchers are attacking the zone, throwing strikes and going after guys,” Reno first basemen Josh Whitesell said. “We've been getting timely hits, and driving in runners when we're getting them on base.”
Pitching and hitting were integral for Reno but the Aces didn’t start off on the right foot, committing two errors in the first inning. Still, Oklahoma City could not capitalize and failed to score.
Reno (20-25) caught a break in the top of the third with the first successful protest in its brief franchise history. Oklahoma City's Julio Borbon reached on an error and it looked like he scored on a Joaquin Arias double. However, Barton did not touch third base and the run was discarded. Arias, however, did score on an Esteban German single for a 1-0 RedHawks lead.
“The recognition of missing the bag at third base, that was the bench saying, 'Hey, he missed third base. He missed third base!' We appealed it and boom! That helped us right there. Everybody is collective,” Reno manager Brett Butler said.
The RedHawks (18-25) loaded up the bases with two outs and designated hitter Max Ramirez at the plate. However, Reno starting pitcher Tony Barnette (3-4) saved the inning by striking out Ramirez, leaving the Aces still down just 1-0 after the inning.
“Today was really good for Barnette,” Butler said. “He's had a couple outings where he struggled and lost his composure in one inning or two innings ... That's a sign of immaturity.
“Today you could start to see it in the third and fourth. He backed off. He got his composure and was able to get out of it pretty much unscathed.”
Reno’s offense finally cashed in, in the bottom of the fourth inning. Whitesell singled, and both John Hester and Ruben Gotay walked to load the bases for Chris Roberson. Roberson hit a fielder’s choice that saw the RedHawks get Gotay on his way to second. But it allowed Whitesell to run in for the score, tying the game at one apiece.
Abraham Nunez reached on a walk, loading the bases again for Reno, with two outs. OKC brought in pitcher Beau Vaughan but he walked his first batter, Bryan Byrne, giving up a run to Reno. The Aces then led 2-1
“The whole season we know that if we just keep grinding it out, taking good at bats and attacking the strike zone, good things are going to happen,” Whitesell said.
The Aces doubled their runs in the fifth inning with two more runs. Second baseman Rusty Ryal led off with a single and stole second. He advanced to third on a Whitesell groundout and scored on a Hester single. Gotay followed with a double, driving in Hester for a 4-1 edge over the visiting RedHawks.
Reno wasn’t done. In the bottom of the eighth, Gotay doubled to center, followed by an RBI double from Roberson. That extended the Aces lead to the final 5-1 victory.
“It's great,” Barnette said. “The offense is on fire and we've got Whitesell back. It's sad he got sent back, but he ignites this offense, no doubt about it. His power is going to show up sooner or later.
“You get a guy like him in the line up and they've got to pitch around him. They don't really know what to do with him.”
The Aces hope to continue their win streak Wednesday they host the RedHawks at 11:35 a.m. Seth Etherton (4-3) is set to start for Reno against OKC's Elizardo Ramirez.