In a game where the Tacoma Rainiers played from behind throughout — and ultimately lost to the Reno Aces, 6-3 — a lone highlight came in the form of a young surprise Sunday.
Jake Brentz, who joined the Rainiers on Saturday to fill a roster spot, pitched a hitless three-up, three-down ninth inning that included a strikeout.
“Warming up, my adrenaline was going, then once I got on the mound everything just slowed,” said Brentz, who split time last year between Rookie League Bluefield and short-season Class-A Everett.
The 21-year-old right-hander was supposed to report to Everett Monday, instead he’ll travel to Salt Lake City and as a member of the Rainiers’ bullpen.
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“Unbelievable,” Listach said. “That was the positive note that came from today’s game.”
As for the rest of the game, Tacoma fell behind and readjusted two pitchers back into the rotation.
In his first start since being activated from the disabled list, Rainiers right-hander Joe Wieland opened with three shutout innings, allowing two hits and no walks, striking out four.
But that was where the fun ended. Wieland gave up four runs in the fourth on four hits and his own throwing error.
With runners on second and third with no outs, Reno’s Zach Borenstein hit an RBI single to right field, and Mitch Haniger followed with a three-run bomb over the left-field fence.
Tacoma responded in the bottom of the fourth with three hits, including a two-RBI single to center by Patrick Kivlehan. Luis Sardinas hit a sacrifice fly to center field, cutting the Reno lead to 4-3.
With two outs in the fifth, the Aces tacked on a Kyle Jensen solo shot, and Reno led the rest of the way.
Tacoma maintains first place in the PCL Pacific Northern division standings, with a two-game cushion over second-place Reno.
Kivlehan’s hit streak extended to eight games — all since being re-acquired by Tacoma — after going 1 for 4 with two RBIs Sunday. The defensive swiss army knife has played multiple positions in the field for the Rainiers, and is hitting .364 with two doubles, a triple and a home run.
“His second time through he’s feeling comfortable,” Listach said, referencing Kivlehan spending most of last season (123 games) with the Rainiers. “I don’t know what happened over in Texas, but he got off to a slow start. This is the guy I’ve been seeing for awhile.”
Tacoma travels to Salt Lake for its third series with the Bees, its first this season in Utah. Right-hander Adrian Sampson (6-4, 3.51) will pitch for the Rainiers, lefty Chris Jones (3-5, 7.33) will take the mound for Salt Lake.