In the third meeting of the season between the Pacific Coast League’s two Pacific division leaders, the Salt Lake Bees won three of four games over the Reno Aces (AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks) in the first of a two-series home stand. After a pair of comebacks in the first two games and a shellacking in game three, Reno was able to eek out an extra-innings win in game four to avoid being swept for the first time this season. Despite the three losses, the Aces still hold the PCL’s best record at 49-31 as well as a seven and a half game lead over both Tacoma and Fresno in the Pacific Northern Division. With the trio of victories, Salt Lake improved to 45-35 on the season as their lead in the Pacific Southern Division grew to six games over Albuquerque. Next up for Salt Lake is a four-game series against the Las Vegas 51’s before hitting the road for six games against Fresno and El Paso.
Game 1: Salt Lake 6, Reno 5
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 27, 2017
Taking the field as the wildly successful Salt Lake Trappers from the 1980’s, the Bees overcame an early 3-0 deficit to win game one of the series with a walk-off run in the bottom of the twelfth inning. After giving up three runs in the top of the second to Reno, Salt Lake scored two runs in the bottom of the frame before tying the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth thanks to an RBI single from Dustin Ackley. The Bees took their first lead of the night in the fifth when Michael Bourn smashed his second homer of the season over the wall in right field and the lead was doubled in the sixth when Reno’s Frank Duncan threw a wild pitch that allowed Cesar Puello to score. But the highest scoring team in the league wouldn’t give up as the Aces were able to score a run in the eighth via an RBI ground-out from Ildemaro Vargas before tying the game at 5-5 with a Jeremy Hazelbaker double. The game would go to extra innings where both teams failed to take advantage of opportunities to claim a win earlier. Reno got a man 90-feet away from scoring the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th when pinch-runner Zach Borenstein went to third on a wild pitch from Salt Lake’s Damien Magnifico, but a pair of ground-outs from Katel Marte and Oswaldo Arcia stranded him there with no reward. The Bees then put a man in scoring position in the bottom of the 11th with a pair of walks from Dustin Ackley and Shane Robinson, but the inning ended abruptly when Williams was caught at second on a double-steal attempt. Salt Lake finally put their lead-off man aboard in the bottom of the twelfth when Bourn singled to center field and he was put in scoring position when C.J. Cron walked. After a Rey Navarro pop-out, the bases were loaded when Cesar Puello walked to set up Nolan Fontana at the plate. Fontana lifted a ball into center field that was just deep enough for Bourn to tag up and avoid the throw-in from center fielder Socrates Brito as he slid across home to give the Bees a 6-5 victory.
Game 2: Salt Lake 9, Reno 3
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 28, 2017
As they had done the night before, Salt Lake came back from a three-run deficit to beat Reno. Unlike last night, the Bees poured it on after taking the lead as Nolan Fontana became just the third player in franchise history to hit a second inside-the-park home run in a single season. Reno took the initial lead in the first when Christian Walker doubled to send home A.J. Pollock and Oswaldo Arcia and the lead would swell to 3-0 when Walker reached home on a sac-fly from Socrates Brito. But, Salt Lake didn’t take long to get back in the game when they made it 3-2 in the bottom of the first thanks to an Aces error and a Carlos Perez sac-fly. Matt Williams would tie the game in the bottom of the second with an RBI single to center field and Cesar Puello would once again give Salt Lake the lead in the bottom of the third with a solo shot out of center field. Puello would improve his night in the fourth when he singled to left field to bring home Ramon Flores and Fontana to make it 6-3 before the Bees really blew the game open in the seventh. After Rey Navarro and Williams reached base with a pair of singles, they would each advance a base with a double-steal. With two men in scoring position, Fontana slapped a blooper into center field that took a sharp nose-dive under Reno center fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker and rolled clear to the wall. As Fontana rounded third, the Aces infield was unable to cleanly receive the relay throw as he crossed home plate standing for his second inside-the-parker in 2017. The three-run homer would stoke the Salt Lake lead to 9-3 and that would be the final score as the Bees improved to a season-best 10 games over .500 at 44-34.
Game 3: Salt Lake 5, Reno 2
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 29, 2017
Salt Lake starter Troy Scribner showed the Reno lineup why he was named to the PCL All-Star team earlier in the day as the right-hander improved to 9-2 on the season while racking up a career-high 11 strikeouts and only allowing a lone run on three hits in seven innings of work Wednesday evening. Unlike the previous two games against the Aces, it was the Bees who took the initial lead thanks to RBI hits from Kaleb Cowart and Cesar Puello in the top of the first. Shane Robinson would ground an RBI single up the middle in the second to put Salt Lake up 3-0 before Reno responded in the top of the third with a solo homer from Kristopher Negron. Rey Navarro would put the Bees back up by three runs in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI double and Matt Williams would follow up with an RBI single to bring him home and inflate the lead to 5-1. Salt Lake’s Mike Morin would enter the game in the eighth to relieve Scribner as the sixth-year pro relied on his infield to help him out after giving up a lead-off single to Negron. Former Bee Hank Conger grounded a ball to second base as Cowart started the 4-5-3 double play that would erase the Reno baserunners before Socrates Brito flied out to left field to end the inning. Morin would give up a hit and a run in the top of the ninth thanks to another solo home run from Oswaldo Arcia, but a pair of fly-outs would end the game soon after as Salt Lake guaranteed a series victory over the top team in the PCL.
Game 4: Salt Lake 2, Reno 3
— Reno Aces (@Aces) June 29, 2017
After overcoming early deficits in games one and two against Reno, the Bees were unable to complete a final comeback attempt in game four as the Aces spoiled Salt Lake’s sweep attempt with an extra-innings win to close the series. Due to some injuries in the Salt Lake rotation, Thursday’s matinee was a bullpen day as reliever Drew Gagnon was given the nod to start on the mound for the Bees. After a lead-off strikeout from Socrates Brito, Gagnon’s start would begin to deteriorate after he gave up singles to Jack Reinheimer and Oswaldo Garcia. Reno would take the lead one batter later thanks to a Christian Walker sac-fly and the lead would double to 2-0 in the second when Rudy Flores pelted his first AAA home run over the right field wall. As they had done throughout the series, Salt Lake would quickly get back in the game in the bottom of the third with RBI hits from Shane Robinson and C.J. Cron. Robinson grounded a single into center field to bring home Tony Sanchez and Cron would end his slump at the plate with a single to left field to bring home Robinson and knot the game at 2-2. After both teams struggled to get the bats going again after the third, Salt Lake had their best chance to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth after Robinson reached base with a single. With Kaleb Cowart at the plate, Robinson was able to steal second and third base under the watchful eye of Reno catcher Willians Astudill0 who failed to throw him out at either base. With the potential go ahead run resting 90 feet away from home plate, neither Cowart or Cron could send Robinson home as the Aces’ Jimmie Sherfy earned a strikeout and a fly-out to end the inning. Entering the 10th inning, Salt Lake reliever Damien Magnifico took the mound and got off to an inauspicious start after giving up a walk to Reno’s Kristopher Negron. After Negron reached second on a steal, Flores would come up big again for the Aces as the sixth-year pro slapped a single down the left-field line to send home Negron and retake the lead at 3-2. Despite Salt Lake putting two men on in the bottom of the 10th, the Bees were unable to extend the game further after Robinson grounded into a 4-5-3 double-play to end the game and the Bees’ four-game win streak.