DURHAM — The Pawtucket Red Sox hold the best record in Durham Bulls Athletic Park at 36-27. Unfortunately, on Tuesday night they werent playing the Bulls.
Despite posting a 6-1 record in the playoffs, the Red Sox were outmatched by the Reno Aces in the Triple-A National Championship game, falling 10-3 in front of a crowd of 8,601.
Though it was touted as a pitchers duel between Renos Trevor Bauer and Pawtuckets Nelson Figueroa, the Aces bats made the game one-sided early.
This is the first championship that Ive ever won, Aces coach Brett Butler, a former major league center fielder, said. The three guys that lead the league in hitting were all called up and we just stuck with our motto of, Whos going to be the hero tonight? We had a lot of heroes tonight.
The Aces broke out in the first inning thanks to A.J. Pollocks triple off of Figueroa from the leadoff position and Tyler Kuhns RBI single. Brent Clevlen then hit a two-run homer to score Kuhn.
Reno scored six runs over the first three innings, leading to the early departure of Figueroa.
In just their fourth year of existence, the Aces have made the playoffs in consecutive years and claimed the second Triple-A National Title for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization after Tucson won it in 2006.
It wasnt always pretty for the right-handed Bauer, but he surrendered two runs on four hits, with six strikeouts and seven walks over 42/3 innings to help secure the first Triple-A title for Reno.
This is a big thing for our franchise overall, Bauer said. Our team has changed a lot down the stretch, but everybody established new roles and came together at the right time. I couldnt be prouder of our team.
Bauer, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft, didnt have his family in attendance, but his USA Baseball host family, Sonya May, her husband and two children who Bauer calls his east coast family were at the game for support.
It was pretty cool to have them here, Bauer said. Ive basically been family with them for the last four years.
Pollock was named most valuable player of the game after his 2-for-5 performance. He hit a double in the second inning to go along with his triple and scored two runs and had an RBI.
I just did what everyone else was doing, Pollock said with a laugh. Its hard to give out an MVP when a team performs like that offensively. Thats what you work for in the offseason and what you work on all year, so I feel fortunate to come out here and perform that way.
The Red Sox staged a late-inning comeback thanks to a Tony Thomas homer, but they were not able to cash in on two bases-loaded situations in the fourth and fifth innings. Pawtucket finished the night with 15 runners left on base while going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.