Pitching was once again the theme during a hot and muggy game five, as the Sacramento River Cats received solid performances from the bump that powered Sacramento to a 3-2 win over the Reno Aces on Sunday.
Both teams had runners aboard in the first on a day where temperatures hit triple digits, including a game-opening double for the Aces (46-34) by Diego Castillo while the River Cats (37-42) put a trio of runners aboard. Neither team was able to convert, as Sacramento right-hander Kai-Wei Teng (1-1) punched out the final two in the top half while a good defensive play at third by Phillip Evans closed the bottom of the frame.
Reno was able to load the bases when they came to the plate in the second, but stepping up to the challenge was Teng as he struck out the side while working out of the damage. He was rewarded for his efforts, as the River Cats loaded the bases thanks to singles by Ricardo Genoves and Will Wilson along with a walk by Michael Gigliotti. Into the box stepped Dalton Guthrie, who collected his first RBI with Sacramento on a groundout to shortstop.
Though the weather was scorching, the bats cooled off as both starting pitchers found a groove. For Teng, he retired seven in a row and while that stretch was snapped with a soft single past Genvoes at first base to start the fifth, he still closed out his outing by retiring 10 of the last 11 Aces he faced prior to exiting.
Reno hurler Blake Walston (6-5) had a near identical stretch, as he retired eight in a row from the end of the second until the beginning of the fifth when Wilson singled to left field. However, Walston also regained composure and sat down the next three in order to finish his outing.
Taking over in the sixth for the River Cats was lefty Scott Alexander, making the first appearance of his current rehab assignment, and he picked up where Teng left off as he allowed only a single base runner to reach on a free pass while also striking out one.
That allowed Sacramento to pour on some insurance, with the rally started thanks to a pair of one-out singles into center field by Bart and Armando Alvarez. Driving home the first run was Jakson Reetz, also his first RBI with the River Cats, doing so with a double that ran down the left field line. Leaving runners on second and third, Alvarez came in to score in the next at-bat when Genoves grounded out to shortstop.
Randy Rodriguez took the ball from Alexander in the seventh and, though he yielded a one-out base hit to Ali Sanchez, was able to induce an inning-ending double play. Though he returned to the mound for the eighth, he ran into trouble by issuing a pair of free passes and a single to shallow right.
Called upon to take over with the bases loaded and no outs was Mauricio Llovera, who promptly punched out the first batter he faced. One run did cross the plate as Llovera forced Dominic Canzone into a groundout to Ford Proctor at first, with the run charged to Rodriguez, before he finally closed the frame on another punchout.
Llovera remained in the game to close out the ninth looking for his first save of the season, and once more had to deal with runners on after a leadoff double by Blaze Alexander. Alexander later tagged up and moved to third on a fly ball before scoring easily on a single down the left field line by Diego Castillo that appeared as if it would roll into the corner but ended up hitting the umpire at third base. Castillo did not see the ball ricochet and tried to advance to second, where he was easily thrown out to bring an end to the contest at 3-2.
In what was his best outing of the season thus far, Teng collected his first Triple-A victory after he allowed just three hits and one walk in 5.0 strong innings while carving up seven. On the way to Llovera earning his first save by tossing the final two frames with one run allowed on two hits, the duo of Alexander and Rodriguez each earned a hold by working a frame. Taking the loss for Reno was Walston, who gave up all three Sacramento runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings with just one strikeout.
Over half of the seven River Cats’ hits came from two bats, as Bart put together his third straight multi-hit effort by going 2-for-4 with a run scored while Wilson was a perfect 2-for-2 with a walk. Earning the RBI were Guthrie, Reetz, and Genoves, while Alvarez scored once along with Bart and Genoves.
Sacramento will look to close out a series win on Monday night as the River Cats host the finale of this six-game series at Sutter Health Park at 6:45 p.m., with the game immediately followed by a special Independence Eve Fireworks Extravaganza.