Aces' hard work culminates in crown

Butler's squad survives up-and-down season with strong ethic

By Mike Potter / Special to | September 18, 2012 9:01 PM ET

DURHAM, N.C. -- Brett Butler said his Reno Aces had been a decent hitting team all season, but when it all came together in the Gildan Triple-A National Championship on Tuesday night, it was a beautiful thing to behold.

A.J. Pollock led the way with a triple and a double and six Aces had multiple-hit games in a 13-hit attack in a wet 10-3 victory over the Pawtucket Red Sox.

"We had a lot of offense early in the year, but then we went through a stretch when we lost 14 of 19 games," said the Aces manager, whose team helped him win his first ultimate championship in baseball Tuesday night. "I said 'Guys, be fundamentally and situationally sound. I just ask each of you guys to do your job individually and the rest will take care of itself.' We won the last five games of the season and we rode it to the house."

Brent Clevlen and Keon Broxton each homered and singled for the Aces, while Tyler Bortnick doubled twice and singled. Tyler Kuhn and Josh Bell chipped in a pair of hits apiece.

The Aces set the tone with a three-run first inning off 38-year-old Pawtucket right-hander Nelson Figueroa, who was knocked out after the second inning.

"That first inning was big," Clevlen said. "A.J. led off with a triple and then Kuhn drove him in. (Figueroa) kept on throwing me sliders with one breaking ball. He left that one over the plate and I put a good swing on it.

"We came out ready to play and waited for our pitches, we put the bat on the ball and made stuff happen."

Broxton got a special thrill, since he ended the season with Reno after spending the bulk with Visalia in the Class A Advanced California League.

It was Broxton's two-run homer in the fifth that provided the real knockout after Pawtucket had started to show some life at 8-2.

"Baseball is baseball no matter where you go," Broxton said. "This is amazing, a real blessing. After my last game with Visalia, I thought I was going home the next day, and then I got called into the office and told I was going to Triple-A.

"I was amazed by it. I was just ready to come up and help these guys wherever they needed me -- outfield, running or whatever. I'm glad to be here and I'm glad I experienced this."

Reno starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, who allowed four hits and seven walks while striking out six over 4 2/3 innings, said he was glad he got the offensive help. "That offensive support was huge," Bauer said. "A.J. starts us off right off the bat with a triple and we end up scoring three in the first and I said, 'You know what? We're going to get this.' It gave me and the team a lot of confidence."


This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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