It took nine innings, but Triple-A Tacoma finally figured out it might not be prudent to pitch to Kevin Cron.
The D-backs prospect roped three extra-base hits, including his Minor League-leading 18th homer, as Reno walked off with a 7-6 win over the Rainiers on Friday night at Greater Nevada Field. His three-run shot in the seventh inning tied the game and he finished with five RBIs while boosting his OPS to 1.198, numbers that could have been higher if Tacoma opted not to intentionally walk the slugger with first base open in the ninth.
Video: Reno's Cron connects for Minor League-leading 18th ho
Cron has been a prolific power hitter, going deep at least 22 times in each of the last four seasons. His career high is 27 in 2015 with Class A Advanced Visalia. The TCU product is already two-thirds of the way to that mark in 147 at-bats this season. He's been on an especially dominant tear this week, now 8-for-12 over his last three games with four homers, 11 RBIs and six runs scored.
The key to his power surge, Cron said, is to strive for normalcy. He tries to be consistent in how he approaches everything down to a singular trip to the batting cage. Building that routine and believing it's right, he said, will teach his body what's normal. Then, when the desired results don't come, he doesn't have to overhaul his swing or stance -- he just has to rediscover normal.
"Hitting is really tough, and if you can get your mind in the right spot, you're built for a little more success," Cron said. "Stay the course, trust the plan, make it second nature. ... The biggest thing that's changed for me is the confidence I have in that and the conviction I have in that. That's what has propelled me so far."
Gameday box score
That mind-set showed when the 2014 14th-round pick doubled in both the first and third innings, the latter of which plated Wyatt Mathisen and Tim Locastro to bring the Aces within 6-3. That was still the score when the 26-year-old third baseman came to bat against right-hander R.J. Alaniz in the seventh. Cron took a ball. He wanted a pitch up in the zone to drive to the outfield and keep a rally going.
"Just keep passing the baton and see what we can do the rest of the inning with the rest of the lineup," he said.
The next offering was just what he wanted. But in his relay analogy, he ran more than just his own leg. Cron's blast cleared the batter's eye in center field, and it wasn't close. Tie game.
"There's always that one big moment that seems to liven up the dugout a bit and change the energy around," he said.
With Cron providing the spark, Rubby De La Rosa (2-0) pitched the rest way for Reno and struck out the first five batters he faced. The right-hander allowed a two-out double to Tim Lopes in the ninth but got Mariners No. 12 prospect Shed Long to ground out to shortstop Ildemaro Vargas.
2019 MiLB include
Rainiers right-hander Tayler Scott (1-2) plunked Tim Locastro leading off the home half of the ninth and the center fielder swiped second for his seventh stolen base of the year. He took third on Vargas' groundout before Cron was given a free pass.
Scott got what he wanted in the next at-bat as Juniel Querecuto popped out to shortstop Kristopher Negron on the edge of the infield grass. Locastro tagged up and raced for home, and the aggressive maneuver paid off as catcher Austin Nola could not hang on to the throw home and Reno snapped its eight-game slide.
"I can't say I expected that," Cron said. "But when it's all said and done, if there is somebody who is going to test the waters like that and play his butt off, it's Timmy Locastro."