Final: Aces 10, PawSox 3: Alas, the ultimate prize was not Pawtucket's for the taking. However, it was a story book season for Arnie Beyeler and his legions of players that put on the Pawtucket uni this season...and there were many of them. It wasn't a pretty final game from either side, but congratulations to the Reno Aces on capturing fourth Triple-A title for the Pacific Coast League.
Top 9th, PawSox 3, Aces 10: Jonathan Albaladejo on to close the door for the Aces. LaRoche reaches on an infield single to start the ninth. Brentz goes down on strikes for the third time tonight. Butler hits a bomb off the Blue Monster in left, but LaRoche tries to score from first and is gunner down for the second out. Replays show clearly that LaRoche was not tagged, but that doesn't help anyone, so the PawSox are down to one out in their historic 2012 campaign. Broxton makes a diving catch in left on a sinking Lin liner to end the season and the Aces mob each other in a driving rain as they celebrate their first ever Triple-A National Championship.
Bottom 8th, PawSox 3, Aces 10: Tony Pena Jr. gets the ball for Pawtucket. Kuhn becomes the PawSox tenth strikeout victim of the night. Bell grounds out to second. Jacobs flies to shallow left and the PawSox get their first (and only) 1-2-3 inning of the night.
Top 8th, PawSox 3, Aces 10: Jensen Lewis now pitching for Reno. Thomas flies out to the right field corner. Linares grounds out to short and is 0-for-4 on the night. Ryan Dent pinch hitting for Valencia as Arnie starts to give his bench players some time. Dent pops up to second and the PawSox are down to three outs in their season.
Bottom 7th, PawSox 3, Aces 10: Jose De La Torre on for Pawtucket. Bortnick with yet another leadoff hit for Reno, a double. He is 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs on the night. Budde strikes out for the second time tonight. Braxton Ks as well but not before Bortnick takes third on a passed ball. Pollack swings and misses at strike three as De La Torre tallies three Ks in his inning of work.
Top 7th, PawSox 3, Aces 10: LaRoche quickly grounds to short for the first out. Brentz is PawSox walk number nine...yet they somehow only have two runs. Unimaginable. Butler hits a grounder to third which forces Brentz out at second. Hee fouls off a batch of pitches before becoming the tenth walk of the night for Pawtucket. The PawSox have 10 walks and four hits while Reno has 12 hits and one walk. Lesson learned = HIT THE BALL! Lin singles back through the box and Butler scores a two-out run for Pawtucket. Hazelbaker avoids the sombrero with a ground out to first.
Bottom 6th, PawSox 2, Aces 10: Alex Wilson is the fourth PawSox pitcher of the night. Bell with a leadoff infield single. For the fifth time in six innings the Aces have their leadoff man on. Brentz gets to the Jacobs liner for out number one. Clevlen gets called out on strikes for the second out. Harbin flies to center to end the inning.
Top 6th, PawSox 2, Aces 10: Lin is erased with a ground out to short. Hazelbaker pulls himself one K shy of the golden sombrero. Thomas reaches first after Clevlen loses the third out in the lights. Have to assume that Bryce Brentz is telling his teammates "told you so" on the bench. A passed ball advances Thomas. Linares draws the eighth PawSox walk of the night. Valencia strands two more runners was he misses a pitch away for strike three. Rain is coming down pretty good now in Durham, tarps on the bullpen mounds.
Bottom 5th, PawSox 2, Aces 10: Brock Huntzinger comes on for the PawSox, but Reno gets another leadoff guy on as Bortnick doubles for his second hit of the ballgame. Budde strikes out looking. Braxton hits one over the big wall in left for a two-run homer and the PawSox are looking at an eight run deficit once again. Pollack grounds to Hee for out number two. Kuhn Ks to end the inning.
Top 5th, PawSox 2, Aces 8: Tony Thomas with a SOLO HR on the first pitch of the inning and the lineup showing some signs of life. Linares with some awful swings to strike out for the second time tonight. Valencia is out number two with an easy fly to left. LaRoche gets a two-bagger down the third base line, a favorite spot for PawSox hitters tonight. Another walk for Bauer, his sixth, this time Brentz. And another as Butler earns a free pass to load things up. Brett Butler thinks that seven walks is enough and yanks Bauer from the game.
Mike DeMark comes on for Reno with two outs and the bases loaded. Hee is blown away by strike three and the PawSox can do no more damage, leave the bases loaded for the second straight inning.
Bottom 4th, PawSox 1, Aces 8: Bell grounds out to Hernandez who then strikes out Jacobs. Brentz charging for a fly ball in the right corner over runs it, then reaches back and misses the ball allowing Clevlen to get to second base. Brentz has had a rough night out in right field tonight. He does however handle the final out from Harbin before any damage is done. For the first time tonight the Aces fail to score.
Top 4th, PawSox 1, Aces 8: Another leadoff walk for the PawSox as Valencia gets on for the second time tonight. It's the third straight inning that Pawtucket has put their leadoff man on. LaRoche with a can-of-corn popup to second base for the first out. Brentz gives the Aces another easy popup out, this time to shallow center. Butler puts one down the third base line for a two-out single, putting Valencia at third. Hee walks to load the bases. Lin takes four straight balls and the PawSox are on the board! Hazelbaker strands three as he whiffs to end the inning. Bauer has been far from impressive tonight, walking five through three innings.
Bottom 3rd, PawSox 0, Aces 8: Hernandez comes on in relief for Pawtucket, but Reno continues with the leadoff hits as Clevlen singles for his second hit of the game. Harbin follows with a walk. Hee's only play on a tough grounder is to first for out number one, but Clevlen and Harbin move up a base. Linares catches out number two right against the left field wall, but Budde does sacrifice in Clevlen from third. All the rolls seem to be going in Reno's direction as Braxton's slow roller to second is enough to keep the inning alive. And just like that, another break scores more runs for the Aces as Brentz lets the final out of the inning pop out of his glove. A big error that scores another run and puts runners on second and third. The inning mercifully ends on a squib grounder that Hernandez handles. The PawSox will need to chip away at this thing starting with their next at-bat.
Top 3rd, PawSox 0, Aces 6: John Hee draws a four-pitch leadoff walk, and the PawSox might do right by taking a bunch of pitches from Bauer moving forward. Work his pitch count up a bit. Lin takes four straight balls as well and the PawSox have guys on first and second with no outs. Hazelbaker gets punched out on a check-swing third strike. A first pitch fastball to Thomas gets away and Hee and Lin advance a base. Thomas held up with his swing but is called out on strikes and Bauer will have a chance to get out of another threat. Linares aids him with a weak grounder to third to end the inning without a run. Only bright side of that inning for Pawtucket was getting Bauer to burn 20 pitches.
Bottom 2nd, PawSox 0, Aces 6: Tyler Bortnick drops one into left field for another Aces leadoff hit. Che-Hsuan Lin looked to lose his footing for a second before catching the first out of the inning off the bat of Ryan Budde. Keon Broxton hits one to right field that holds up enough to Brentz to camp under it for the second out. Back around to the top of the Reno order. Bortnick breaks for second and gets in under Butler's high throw. Pollack flares a broken bat single into left, scoring Bortnick and no one is covering second for Pawtucket so the speedy Pollack earns another base off of a PawSox gaffe. Kuhn with a solid lined single to center field, Lin's throw home is a weak one and Pollack scores easily while Kuhn moves up to second. Rich Sauveur with a visit to the mound and Chris Hernandez warming in the pen. And another broken bat single scoring a run, this time from Bell and things are officially out of hand. Jacobs flies out to the infield grass to end the two-out rally. Figueroa has faced thirteen batters through two innings and his night may be over.
Top 2nd, PawSox 0, Aces 3: Danny Valencia blisters a 3-1 pitch down the third base line for a double, the first PawSox hit of the night. Valencia advances to third on a wild pitch by Bauer. After running the count 3-0, Andy LaRoche Ks for the first out. Bryce Brentz shows a bit of his youth by swinging at the first pitch and popping it foul to the catcher for the second out. Dan Butler takes one for a ride, but it is tracked down in front of the center field wall, stranding Valencia at third.
Bottom 1st, PawSox 0, Aces 3: For those watching on TV, yes that is former Red Sox infielder Rick "Rooster" Burleson coaching first base. He serves as the Aces hitting coach.
A.J. Pollack hits one off the top of the wall in right-center for a leadoff triple. Had the PawSox hit the cutoff man on that play they would have had a great shot at getting Pollack at third. Tyler Kuhn hits an opposite field single to left to drive in Pollack for the first run of the game. Josh Bell is an easy out on a four pitch K. A pickoff try of Kuhn at first by Figueroa, but he gets in just ahead of the tag. Mike Jacobs goes down looking on an inside fastball for the second out. Kuhn steals second on a swinging strike by Brent Clevlen, solid effort by Dan Butler on the throw. Clevlan deposits one to dead center field for a two-run jack. Taylor Harbin ends the inning with by grounding out to second base.
Figueroa has his toughest inning of the postseason as Reno is quick to jump on the scoreboard in this one with a couple of hard hit balls.
Top 1st, PawSox 0, Aces 0: Trevor Bauer gets Jeremy Hazelbaker to ground out to second base for the first out of the game. Tony Thomas rips a 2-1 pitch that is handled at third base on one hop for the second out. J.C. Linares has trouble with Bauer's breaking balls and strikes out swinging at a ball in the dirt for a 1-2-3 inning. Bauer very sharp out of the gate and not afraid to use his hook often.
Pregame: It all comes down to this. Arnie's Army looks to secure one more win and return to Pawtucket with yet another piece of hardware before calling it a season. If the offense can slug their way to some early runs, as has been the case in most of their playoff wins, then it will go a long way in backing starter Nelson Figueroa. It's been a long time coming since the PawSox made a mark like this, and thanks to the early demise of the big club this season, there has been some much deserved local hype behind their run. Brett Butler leads his Reno squad into Durham with one of the best young pitchers at his disposal in Trevor Bauer. Offensively the Aces will look for a lift from vets Josh Bell and Mike Jacobs, but could be sparked at the top of their order by Diamondbacks top outfield prospect A.J. Pollack. It'll be all hands on deck tonight for both sides in this winner-take-all affair from Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
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