Reno Aces right fielder Roger Kieschnick launched a two-run home run over the right field wall in the sixth inning of Game 3 of the Pacific Coast League Championship Series in Omaha Friday night and the Aces were able to make those runs hold up, winning the game 2-1, and taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
Kieschnick's home run was even more impressive, given that the ball wasn't carrying well. The temperature at game time was 54 degrees and it dropped throughout the game.
"I was just trying to get the guy over, trying to get the barrel out, and ran into a good one," Kieschnick said after the game, referring to Nick Ahmed, who doubled to lead off the sixth inning. "Our bullpen and our starting pitchers - they've thrown great these past three weeks and to get the lead early for them, it's huge."
The Aces were 71-1 when leading after seven innings during the regular season, so starting pitcher Andrew Chafin had to feel pretty good when he saw Kieschnick's shot in the sixth disappear over the wall.
"It was definitely a momentum change in our favor," Chafin said, who tossed six scoreless innings, on four hits and one walk, while striking out four. The lefty also picked up his second win of the postseason. His last performance was a five-hit complete game shutout against Las Vegas in the PCL Pacific Conference Championship Series. "There really wasn't any momentum going either way at the point, but once that happened, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, we're going to win this game.'"
Chafin had been locked in a pitcher's duel with Omaha starter Sugar Ray Marimon, who had a good night (5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K), but the big fly to Kieschnick was costly.
"He had some deep counts early, but I thought he threw the ball well," said Omaha manager Brian Poldberg. "We just didn't get enough key hits.
"You have to take advantage of your scoring opportunities, and we really haven't had many. We didn't have many guys in scoring position tonight. We had a couple of good at-bats, but we really didn't string anything together."
Both bullpens were solid.
Scott Alexander, Kyle Zimmer and Tim Collins gave up just one hit, collectively, over the final 3.2 innings. And Omaha relievers have allowed only one unearned run in 25.2 innings in the playoffs on just six hits.
A combination of Jess Todd, Kevin Munson and Jake Barrett gave up one run on four hits over the final three innings.
The Aces have a chance to win their second PCL championship in just three seasons tomorrow afternoon. They defeated Omaha in the 2012 PCL Championship Series. Omaha will seek to extend the series to a deciding Game 5 on Sunday afternoon.
Reno sends RHP Charles Brewer (8-10, 4.99 ERA) to the mound Saturday afternoon at 2:05 pm (Central) in Omaha against RHP Andy Ferguson (1-1, 6.00 ERA) for Omaha.
The Storm Chasers have already announced that they would give the ball to Aaron Brooks to start Game 5, if one is played. Reno hasn't announced a possible Game 5 starter.