WEST SACRAMENTO- There was no shortage of offense for the Sacramento River Cats on Friday night, scoring seven runs by the fourth which proved more than enough in Sacramento’s 9-2 victory over the El Paso Chihuahuas.

The River Cats’ (8-5) offense matched the postgame fireworks, as they scored once during the first inning before tacking on four more in the third and two in the fourth. Both of the first two hitters for Sacramento reached base when Luis Matos singled into center and Marco Luciano walked, but only Matos came around to score thanks to a sacrifice fly by Casey Schmitt.


Schmitt struck again in the third as he provided three of the four tallies in the frame with one swing of the bat. Sitting on an 0-1 pitch, Schmitt hammered an offering from Chihuahuas (6-7) starter Jackson Wolf that left the bat at 103.8 mph and flew onto the clubhouse beyond the left-field wall.

That at-bat had come on the heels of another RBI knock, as Heliot Ramos continued his hot series by sending a ball through the middle to score Luciano, who had reached with his second free pass in as many at-bats.


Sacramento made it a 7-0 lead with two more runs in the fourth, doing so in back-to-back at-bats thanks to the duo of David Villar and Ramos. A Villar two-bagger scored Ismael Munguia who was hit by a pitch to start the frame, while Ramos brought home Villar with another single into center.

Scoring halted until the eighth when El Paso finally reached the scoreboard, doing so against Sacramento right-hander Cody Stashak for the first earned runs he had allowed all season. Both runners crossed the plate on a bases-loaded double by Matthew Batten, but Stashak was able to compose himself and limit the damage with two pop ups to end the inning.


In the bottom half of the frame the River Cats stole the runs right back, and who else was involved but the usual suspects of Villar and Ramos. Villar’s third hit of the night put him aboard at first when Ramos took a pitch to deep center, clearing the head of center fielder Bryce Johnson before bouncing off the warning track and over the wall. Neither had to wait on base long, as a Schmitt deep fly ball to right center was misplayed by Oscar Mercado and led to the game’s final of 9-2.


Bouncing back from his first loss of the season last time out, Sacramento starter Mason Black (1-1) was in sharp form tonight as he did not allow a single hit through his five innings, the second time he’s tossed 5.0 frames in 2024. Though he walked two, he also punched out seven hitters to give him three consecutive games of five or more strikeouts.

His effort was followed by Justin Garza, who also kept a zero in his runs column by allowing just one hit and striking out two in 2.0 innings. Though Stashak allowed a pair of runs on three hits, he also struck out three as the River Cats as a staff finished with 12 punchouts. That marked their fourth game this season of 10 or more strikeouts, but just the first since they struck out 13 against Reno on April 2.


Doing a majority of the damage for the River Cats was the heart of the lineup, as Villar closed his night 3-for-5 with a trio of runs scored, a double and RBI. Meanwhile, Schmitt’s first dinger of the campaign helped him to close his night with four RBI as he was 2-for-4.

Matching Villar with three hits was Ramos, who has driven in a total of eight runs in this series alone after he went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a double, and two RBI. After having tallied three RBI in each of his previous two games, Ramos fell one shy of matching that number for a third straight contest, which would have made him the first River Cat to produce three or more RBI in three consecutive games since Chris Carter did so in the 2011 campaign.

Leading the series 3-1, the River Cats will go for the outright series win when the two teams line up for game five of the series on Saturday with first pitch tossed at 6:37 p.m.

Photo: Mason Black delivers a pitch during Sacramento’s 9-2 win over El Paso on Friday, April 12. (Ralph Thompson Photo)

Jake Ward
Author: Jake Ward