RENO, Nev – Much like the characters that fill the stage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre nearly 2,700 miles away from the Biggest Little City, history has its eyes on the Reno Aces.
A season that started with the franchise’s youngest manager taking the reins has blossomed into an improbable
R**ENO, Nev** – Much like the characters that fill the stage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre nearly 2,700 miles away from the Biggest Little City, history has its eyes on the Reno Aces.
A season that started with the franchise’s youngest manager taking the reins has blossomed into an improbable run to open the 2021 campaign. No matter where Blake Lalli goes, his teams always win and the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate has been no different.
The Aces reached the halfway point with a 41-24 mark through 65 games, the best record in franchise history to start the season since the 2017 squad went 40-25. As fate would have it, the 2017 team went on to win the division in the Pacific Coast League.
Through nearly 11 series this season, the Biggest Little City's team has put forth a 6-0-4 record while the remainder of its six-game slate with the Oklahoma City Dodgers could propel the Aces its seventh series win or fifth draw having won three of the first five contests.
During the team’s successful stretch to open the 2021 slate, Reno has had a slew of firsts and rewritten history while also outpacing every team in Minor League Baseball.
The Diamondbacks’ No. 7 prospect Corbin Martin broke the team record with an eight-strikeout performance on Opening Day against Salt Lake, surpassing the seven set on two occasions, most recently by Archie Bradley in 2017.
Upon returning home to Greater Nevada Field, the Aces’ Renae Martinez and Jamie Ritchie became the first duo in the team’s 11-year history to each smack a grand slam in the same game as part of the Aces’ 18-3 blowout over Las Vegas on May 18.
Daulton Varsho became the first player to hit two home runs in the same inning when he took Albuquerque’s pitchers deep for a solo shot and a grand slam in the eighth inning on June 19.
Comebacks have become a trend for Blake Lalli’s club in 2021, going 10-4 in games when the Aces erase a deficit of three or more runs. The Biggest Little City’s team has also stormed back to win two contests against the Las Vegas Aviators after trailing by as many as six runs in each game.
On May 14, Las Vegas went up by six, 7-1, after the fourth frame before the Aces unloading nine unanswered tallies in the final four innings to down the Aviators, 10-7.
Exactly one month later on June 14 in Summerlin, Reno surrendered an 11-run third inning to trail, 12-6, before unleashing five in seventh, six in the eighth and three in the ninth to rock Las Vegas, 21-16. The 21 runs scored and 22 hits were the largest totals of the season while six players tallied at least two base knocks and scored three tallies.
In the seventh inning or later, Reno leads all of Triple-A with a .319 batting average and 475 runs scored in 65 contests.
The team from Northern Nevada has been at the top of professional baseball all season with a .293 batting average. Ritchie has helped drive the offense, hitting a Triple-A second-best .362 to go along with a league-leading .487 on-base percentage.
On July 5, Lalli’s club became the fastest team in MiLB to reach the 400-run plateau, accomplishing the feat in just 53 contests and surpassing its previous mark of 60 games set by the 2011 and 2017 squads. Besides the Aces, only three teams since 2005 have scored 400 tallies in under 60 games with the most recent coming in 2013 when the Lancaster JetHawks did it in 56 contests.
Defensively, Reno has posted two shutout wins this season on May 15 and July 8, both also against the Aviators. In the team’s first blank outing, Josh Green tossed five innings in the Aces’ 3-0 victory. Nearly two months later, Reno stole a 1-0 victory behind a stellar pitching performance from Humberto Mejia and the game-winning run scoring on a sacrifice fly by Seth Beer.
Green emerged as the Aces top pitcher, boasting a 6-2 record this year, with his longest outing coming against Tacoma on July 2 in which he went 7.2 innings in the team’s 2-1 win.
Closer Miguel Aguilar has been perfect in save opportunities, going a perfect 13-for-13 in 28.0 innings of work for the Aces during the 2021 campaign.
Blake Lalli’s club has been ruthless through the first 65 games of the year and will continue to have a target on its back through the final two and a half months as all Triple-A West will look to dethrone the Aces.
Reno starts their official second half of the season tonight for their final game against Oklahoma City. First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. P.T. from Chickasaw Bricktown Park.