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Reno clinches first PCL North crown08/31/2011 1:51 AM ET
By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com
The Aces hit the jackpot Tuesday night.
Despite falling to Fresno, 5-2, Reno wrapped up the Pacific Coast League Northern Division title following Tacoma's 2-0 loss to Tucson.
With a 5-2 victory Monday over the Grizzlies, the D-backs' Triple-A affiliate clinched at least a tie of the division, but had to wait one more day to claim the crown outright. Despite the wait, the team got the celebration started early.
"The guys have meshed together and got the job done," manager Brett Butler told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "This means a lot to me. A full-season club -- I've been at six years now, as a manager -- so to get to the postseason, it's the first step to hopefully the finale at the end."
Reno joined the PCL after the 2008 season, after spending the previous 11 seasons in Tucson. The '09 season proved to be a disappointment as the Aces missed the playoffs despite having the league's third-best record.
"The first year we were 15 games over .500 and took third place," Butler said. "It was bittersweet because I felt like we played as well as we could, but had a team in front of us. Then last year, we didn't really have an opportunity and, about halfway through the season, we knew it.
"This year, I knew we'd have a better team, and from Day 1, the guys have just gone out there and did what needed to be done."
Butler heaped praise on shortstop Cody Ransom, who leads the club with 27 homers and 91 RBIs despite spending a month in the big leagues.
"I told Ransom he was a big part of this," the former Major League All-Star said. "I told him he was one of the main cogs in this. I know he really doesn't want to be back here; he wants to be in the big leagues. But he's a big part of this."
Ransom, for his part, was pleased with the team's accomplishment and happy to be part of it.
"It's fun every time," Ransom said. "It never gets old. That's what you're here for. That's what you play a season for, to win a title and sway some people with whatever. It's a good time."
Reno will square off against the Sacramento River Cats, owner of the league's best record. The Aces finished 7-9 in the regular season against the Southern Division winners.
Florida State League
Bradenton, Pittsburgh's Class A Advanced affiliate, clinched the FSL South's second-half title Tuesday behind a 10-hit attack in a 6-3 win over Palm Beach. The Marauders got five innings of solid relief as three pitchers combined to allow just a run on three hits to secure the victory.
Jason Erickson got the win with three innings of one-run relief after replacing starter Donnie Veal, who went four innings. Ryan Beckman got the save with a spotless ninth. Second baseman Adalberto Santos gave Beckman a couple extra runs to work with thanks to a two-run shot in the eighth.
Bradenton opens up the playoffs against first-half champ St. Lucie on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. at Bradenton's McKechnie Field. Box score