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The Sacramento River Cats again avoided elimination from the postseason as they defeated the Reno Aces 8-2 at Raley Field on Saturday night.
The River Cats were able to bring the series to 2-2 and force a game 5 after falling behind in the series 0-2 to the Aces earlier in the week.
“After dropping two games in Reno, we are just fortunate enough to have put ourselves in a situation to play tomorrow,” said River Cats second baseman Wes Timmons. “There’s no pressure now, in reality, the pressure is on them now. Nobody wants to go up 2-0 and then lose.”
The River Cats quickly pounced on Reno’s starting pitcher Gaby Hernandez. Starting center fielder Jermaine Mitchell hit a lead-off triple to deep right-center field before scoring on a Chris Carter single to give Sacramento the early lead.
Sacramento built on their lead in the 2nd inning when catcher Joel Galarraga hit a single that scored Grant Green from second base. Starting short stop Tyler Ladendorf then hit a sacrifice bunt that moved Stephen Parker and Galarraga into scoring position with one out. Following a strikeout by Mitchell, Timmons was able to hit a two-out single to score two more runs and bring the River Cats lead to 4-0 heading into the 3rd inning.
The River Cats would tack on two more runs in the bottom of the 4th inning when third baseman Josh Donaldson hit a two-out triple that scored Timmons and Ladendorf who were on base after a walk and being hit by a pitch, respectively.
Sacramento starting pitcher Carlos Hernandez kept the Aces were off the scoreboard until the top of the 6th inning. After two singles and a walk to load the bases, Reno’s starting first baseman Andy Tracy hit a two-out single to score two runs for the Aces and bring the deficit to 6-2.
Much to the joy of his River Cats manager Darren Bush, Hernandez pitched 5.2 solid innings, giving up six hits, two runs, while walking two and striking out four.
Souza then came in to relieve Hernandez to pitch to Reno catcher Lucas May with the bases loaded. May battled Souza in a 13-pitch at bat that included a hard-hit foul ball that left the ball park. May would eventually ground out to third base to end the threat.
The River Cats quickly got those two runs back on a Timmons home run over the left field wall in the bottom of the 6th inning, bringing the score to 8-2.
The River Cats look to get the crowd into the game again on Sunday when they play in the decisive game 5.
“We have had a great crowd all year, we have sold out numerous times. This is one of the most faithful crowds I’ve played in front of,” said Timmons.
The River Cats face the Reno Aces in game 5 at Raley Field at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday, with the winner advancing to the Pacific Coast League Championship Series.
Lenny DiNardo takes the mound for the River Cats, going up against Aces Tom Layne. The River Cats are 1-4 in franchise history when playing in game 5 of a playoff series.