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Three Homers Power River Cats Past Aces 7-3

Coulter Generates First Multi-Homer Game This Season, Matos Collects Three Hits
Sean Hjelle delivers a pitch during Sacramento's game on May 9 against Salt Lake. (Ralph Thompson Photo)
May 20, 2023

RENO, Nev. – For the third time this season the Sacramento River Cats bashed three home runs, two of which came from the Bat of Clint Coulter, helping the River Cats snap a three-game losing streak at the hands of the Reno Aces with a 7-3 victory on Friday night.

RENO, Nev. – For the third time this season the Sacramento River Cats bashed three home runs, two of which came from the Bat of Clint Coulter, helping the River Cats snap a three-game losing streak at the hands of the Reno Aces with a 7-3 victory on Friday night.

Each of the first two innings saw the River Cats (21-22) lead off the frame with a base runner, as Luis Matos singled on the first pitch of the game while Ford Proctor drew a four-pitch walk to open the second. The Aces (26-17) were able to match thanks to singles in both innings, but all four runners were left stranded. Part of that stretch included Sacramento starter Sean Hjelle (1-0) striking out the side in the second after allowing the leadoff single.

For the fourth time in the series the Aces were the team to reach the scoreboard first, doing so on a homer to straightaway center by Jake McCarthy, his third of the season. Scoring was Dominic Miroglio who had opened the frame with a single.

Just two batters into their turn at the dish the River Cats drew level thanks to Coulter leaving the yard with his second homer of the year that just cleared the wall in right field. It was a nearly identical script to Reno as Colton Welker had also reached to open the inning, doing so on a free pass.

The blast marked the fifth consecutive day that the River Cats have homered, a new season best and one game shy of their streak of six games from last season. Aiming to continue the rally still with no outs Ford Proctor drove a single to left field, but he was soon erased on a double play with the top of the fourth concluding tied 2-2.

Settling down from the earlier big fly, Hjelle again worked around a leadoff single in the home half of the frame by earning a strikeout and inducing a pair of groundouts. He later returned for the fifth, and saw a one-out walk wiped clean when Ricardo Genoves was able to catch Jorge Barrosa trying to steal second.

After a groundout to Will Wilson at shortstop helped Hjelle had matched the longest outing by a River Cats starter this season after five innings (also: Tristan Beck, April 12 at Reno). While he left in a tie game after allowing the two runs on five hits with a season-best four punchouts, Hjelle moved in line for the win following another explosive set of swings by Sacramento.

Repeating the recipe from the fourth, Welker put himself on base courtesy a double to right center just in front of Coulter, who then hit his second two-run blast of the night by sending a 1-2 fastball over the left field wall. Coulter’s 417-foot blast signaled the first two-home run game by a River Cat this season, the first to do so since Jason Krizan did so against this same Reno squad last year on Aug. 27 during a 6-0 Sacramento victory.

Despite chasing Aces’ starter Konnor Pilkington (0-1) from the contest, the River Cats kept their foot on the gas pedal when Genoves singled with two outs and then moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Two batters later, Wilson drove him in on a crisp single to center to give the River Cats a 5-2 lead.

Tasked with holding onto the lead, Jorge Guzman ran into a jam in the home half of the sixth after he hit and walked the first two batters he faced. While one runner was erased trying to advance to third following a wild pitch, Tristan English managed an RBI single into left that brought the game to 5-3. Entering to get out of the inning was Nick Avila, who did so after a loud final out was caught at the warning track in left field.

Insurance came in the top of the seventh for the River Cats from David Villar, as he launched his second home run in his three games played with Sacramento by sending a ball just over the fence in right center. Scoring on the play was Luis Matos, who had singled earlier in the inning to record his second straight multi-hit game. The home run was the third of the game for Sacramento, their third three-homer game of the season.

Though he yielded a two-out walk and single, Avila made it through the seventh without allowing a run, then made way for Erik Miller to face the minimum six hitters, including a clean frame in the eighth and neutralizing a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

Leading the way in hits for Sacramento was Matos, ending 3-for-5 with a run scored and his first Triple-A three-bagger when he laced a ball into the left-center gap that just landed past the diving Thomas. Each of the three hitters in the middle of the River Cats’ order posted two-hit games, starting with the two-homer effort from Coulter before he finished 2-for-5. Joining him were Proctor and Genoves were each 2-for-4.

Sacramento will try to make it two wins in a row when the River Cats meet the Aces tomorrow at 4:05 p.m. from Greater Nevada Field.