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Hagens, Aces pull even in PCL Finals

D-backs prospect pitches six solid innings in tight Game 2
September 11, 2014

If pitching and defense win championships, the Reno Aces have to be happy with the way they played Wednesday night.

D-backs prospect Bradin Hagens allowed a run on five hits over six innings, giving Reno the start it needed in a 4-2 victory over Omaha that tied the best-of-5 Pacific Coast League Championship Series at a game apiece.

The series shifts to Omaha, which hosts Game 3 on Friday.

"It was a big win, especially to give us the momentum as we go there," said Hagens, who struck out four and did not walk a batter. "Ours is a team that really thrives on momentum."

The Aces turned two double plays behind Hagens, the first coming after Whit Merrifield led off the game with a single.

"That's one thing you kind of don't want to get into, a situation like that to start the game," Hagens said. "But when you have a defense playing behind you like I do, it's never that big of a threat. You know one ground ball can get you out of it."

The 25-year-old right-hander ran into trouble in the fourth, when Merrifield and Pedro Ciriaco opened the inning with singles. Paulo Orlando attempted a sacrifice, but Reno catcher Bobby Wilson threw down to third to get the lead runner.

"That was awesome. Bouncing back from the plate like that, he saved that inning," Hagens said. "That kept the double play in order."

Hagens ended the inning by getting Brett Eibner to bounce into the twin killing he was looking for.

Omaha threatened again in the sixth, when Merrifield doubled with two outs and scored on Ciriaco's single. Orlando reached on an error by second baseman Argenis Diaz that moved Ciriaco into scoring position.

"Our pitching coach [Mike Parrott] came out to talk. He reminded me to trust in what I'd been throwing all game, getting ground balls and not trying to do too much," Hagens said. "Occasionally, I have a tendency to try to do too much with some pitches, try to make them swing and miss too much instead of just using one pitch to get a ground-ball out."

Hagens got Eibner on a comebacker to end his night.

Merrifield went 4-for-4, adding an eighth-inning single off reliever Kevin Munson that put runners on the corners with no outs after the Storm Chasers had gotten within 4-2.

"He's swinging the bat well right now," Hagens said. "But if they only have one guy swinging bat the well, well, obviously that's not going to win the series. We've got the whole team swinging the bats well."

Ciriaco hit into the Storm Chasers' third double play. Paul Janish scored from third, but he was sent back after umpires ruled that Merrifield went out of the baseline to slide into Aces shortstop Nick Ahmed.

Omaha manager Brian Poldberg was ejected for arguing with second base umpire Kolin Kline, but the home team was pleased with the call.

"That's something that might get overlooked more often than not," Hagens said. "For the ump to actually notice that and make the right call, that was huge. I'm sure Munson was happy about it, and it really changed the momentum there."

Ahmed, the D-backs' No. 9 prospect, hit a two-run double in the Aces' four-run second.

Jake Barrett, Arizona's 11th-ranked prospect, pitched a perfect ninth to earn his second postseason save.

Storm Chasers starter John Lamb (0-1) took the loss after surrendering four runs on two hits and three walks in two innings.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com.