For the second time in three years, the Reno Aces will play for the Pacific Coast League Championship. Backed by another strong effort by starter Charles Brewer, the Aces topped the Las Vegas 51s, 7-3, Saturday night at Aces Ballpark to win the Pacific Conference Championship Series three games to one.
Brewer finished the regular season with five consecutive quality starts, a span in which he posted a 1.64 ERA over 33 innings. He continued to dominate in the early innings against the 51s. Brewer retired the first 11 batters he faced and didn’t allow a run until the seventh inning.
Reno took advantage of a wild Logan Verrett in the fourth. He struck out Mike Jacobs for what should have been the second out in the inning, but Jacobs reached on a wild pitch. After Verrett struck out Danny Dorn, Garrett Weber lined a base hit to right-field, scoring Jacobs just ahead of Bobby Abreu’s throw to the plate.
In the fifth, Nick Ahmed reached on an error by Las Vegas shortstop Matt Reynolds. Roger Kieschnick followed with a single to move Ahmed to third. With Andy Marte batting, Verrett uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Ahmed to score. The flip from catcher Taylor Teagarden to Verrett got away, allowing Kieschnick to second.
Marte then rifled a double down the left-field line to score Kieschnick, making it a 3-0 game. Verrett came back to strike out Jacobs for the second out in the inning, but he didn’t escape further damage. On a 2-0 pitch, Dorn hit a two-run home run to right-field to give Reno a 5-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Brewer didn’t budge until the seventh inning. Andrew Brown and Brandon Allen started the inning with back-to-back singles. After Brewer struck out Teagarden, Allan Dykstra took him deep on the first pitch he saw for a three-run homer to cut the lead to 6-3.
Zeke Spruill relieved Brewer and got the final two outs of the seventh, and Kevin Munson fired a 1-2-3 top of the eighth.
Reno put an insurance run on the board when Weber and Mike Freeman hit back-to-back doubles with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Staked to a 7-3 lead, Jake Barrett was summoned to pitch the ninth. He walked Brandon Allen to start the inning, then retired Teagarden on a fly out to center-field. Barrett then induced a game-ending 3-6 double play to seal the win.
The Aces will play the Omaha Storm Chasers in the Pacific Coast League Championship. The same two teams played in the 2012 PCL Championship, with the Aces winning the crown in four games. Reno will host games one and two beginning on Tuesday night. First pitch of game one at Aces Ballpark is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.