by Mike Potter
And although the Durham Bulls had their worst season in six years and didn’t get anywhere near the game, there’s a great crowd of 8,601 in the house.
The Pawtucket Red Sox, Durham’s worst tormentors in the International League with a 36-27 record in the park, are the Governors’ Cup Champions taking on the Reno Aces of the Pacific Coast League.
Manager of the Aces is Brett Butler, who was a member of the legendary 1980 Bulls who brought pro baseball back to the city after a seven-year absence. Oddly enough, his Bulls teammate Gerald Perry is the PawSox’ hitting coach.
Trevor Bauer, who was the No. 3 overall pick in last season’s draft from the Arizona Diamondbacks, will take on 38-year-old PawSox starter Nelson Figueroa.
The series is tied with each league having three wins apiece. Reno is the home team since the PCL won the Triple-A All-Star Game this year.
Reno scores early and often, banging out 13 hits in an easy 10-3 win.
Reno sets the tone with three runs in the first.
A.J. Pollock leads off with a triple to right and scores on Tyler Kuhn’s single to left. Then with two out, Brent Clevlen launches a 3-2 pitch onto the berm behind center field to make it 3-0.
And the Aces double their lead in the second. Tyler Bortnick singles to left and stole second. With two out, Pollock hits an RBI double to right center, followed by Kuhn’s RBI single to center and Josh Bell’s RBI single to center.
Things get more lopsided in the third with lefty Chris Hernandez on the hill for Pawtucket. Clevlen leads off with a single, followed by a walk to Taylor Harbin. Ryan Budde scores Clevlen with a one-out sac fly to left. Then after Keon
Broxton hits an infield single to second Harbin scores as Bryce Brentz muffs Pollock’s fly to right.
Pawtucket finally gets on the board in the fourth as Danny Valencia draws a leadoff walk, followed by a two-out double from Brentz and back-to-back walks to Jonathan Hee and Lin Che-Hsuan.
The PawSox cut it to 8-2 in the fifth as Tony Thomas blasts Bauer’s first pitch onto the berm in left center.
But Broxton stretches the lead back with one out in the seventh, launching Brock Huntzinger’s 0-1 offering over the left-field Blue Monster wall to score Bortrick who had led off with a double.
Pawtucket makes it 10-3 with two-out in the seventh on Lin’s two-out single to center.
Pollock is named game MVP after a triple and double with a pair of runs scored and an RBI. Clevlen and Broxton each homer and singled for the Aces, while Bortnick chips in a pair of doubles and a single.
Mike De Mark is the winning pitcher.
They said it …
Reno manager Brett Butler: “This is the first (ultimate) championship I’ve ever won. I won a National League championship but never the whole enchilada. We had the top three guys in the league in hitting called up and a couple of our top pitchers, and the (Diamondbacks) organization filled those spots and these guys stepped up. Our whole motto was ‘Who’s going to be the hero tonight?’”
Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler: “We had a great run with these guys. They played hard every day. They worked hard every day. They played hard nine innings tonight after getting down early. We had some chances and it just didn’t happen. Like I said, they deserve the credit. They played a better game than us tonight. … It was a fun season. These guys played hard and deserved the championship that we earned. We deserved to play a little bit better game tonight but we didn’t. And those guys played better.”
Pollock: “This is a great experience. I’ve never played with a team that came together like that at the end of the year. To see every guy giving everything he had and every guy coming through was a pretty cool experience and something I’m not going to forget about. I just went out and did what everyone else was doing. It’s hard to give an MVP when everyone goes out and performs like that. Everybody came through in a big game. This is what you work all year for. Hitting is contagious, and the whole team really just was on top of their game tonight.”
Clevlen: “That first inning was big. A.J. led off with a triple and them (Tyler) 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.”
What does it all mean?
That Reno got its first title in just five seasons in Triple-A, while Pawtucket’s DBAP magic didn’t work this time.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Pawtucket: Lost 1
Reno: Won 2.