El Paso, TX. (KOLO) The Pacific Coast League Northern Division Champion Reno Aces squared off against the Southern Division Champion, El Paso Chihuahuas in game three of the best-of-five series Friday night.
El Paso would come out on top, 7-6, eliminating Reno from the 2017 Pacific Coast League playoffs. Anthony Banda (6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 8 K) led the Aces defensively. Offensively, Reno enjoyed a 2-for-3, two-run, four-RBI night from the PCL MVP, Christian Walker.
The Aces got into the scoring column in the very first inning. Christian Walker, the Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player, drew a two-out walk to give the visiting Reno squad their first baserunner of the evening. The clean-up hitter, Zach Borenstein, launched his first double of the post season down the right field line to bring in Walker and give the Aces their first lead of the game.
Catcher Michael Perez got the start after two consecutive nods for Ronnie Freeman. Despite not playing in either of the first two Pacific Conference Championship games, Perez doubled in his first at-bat of the 2017 post season to leadoff the second inning. Shortstop Jack Reinheimer followed Perez’ lead with a single to place runners on the corners with no outs. The speedy Evan Marzilli hit a soft groundball to second base, and despite the quick turn by the middle infield, Marzilli did not draw a throw and Perez scored. The top of the third was similar to the top of the second for Reno. Emilio Bonifacio tripled to lead off the inning, bringing up Walker. Walker hit a towering fly ball to right fielder Hunter Renfroe, scoring Bonifacio and extending the Reno lead to three.
El Paso got to Anthony Banda for the first time in the bottom of the third inning. A leadoff walk to Dusty Coleman passed the bat to Chihuahuas catcher Tony Cruz. Cruz, a right-handed batter, launched a home run into the El Paso sky to narrow the Aces lead to just one. Banda settled down and delivered three consecutive scoreless innings before exiting for Yuhei Nakaushiro in the 7th.
Nakaushiro recorded just one out, allowing a single and base on balls in the seventh inning before being replaced by Kaleb Fleck (BS, 1). The combination of Nakaushiro, Fleck and Jared Miller allowed two runs in the bottom of the seventh, tying the game at four. The El Paso offense caught fire in the bottom of the eighth, plating three to take a 7-4 lead.
Christian Walker went down swinging, blasting his second home run of the playoffs and 34th of the season. The loss ends the Reno Aces season, concluding what was a historic run. Tickets for the 2018 season are now on sale. Fans can visit the team’s website at www.renoaces.com or by calling (775) 334-7000. Follow the club all offseason long on Twitter (@Aces) or like the team on Facebook.