RENO - With 2,357 enthusiastic fans in attendance and a post-game fireworks display, the Reno Silver Sox accomplished nearly everything they set out to do in their first regular season game at Peccole Park - except win.
A costly error and a three-run ninth inning led to a 9-6 defeat to the Long Beach Armada in the teams' Golden Baseball League opener.
The Silver Sox outhit the Armada 13-9 and loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but Long Beach reliever Mike Peck rendered could bes and maybes moot by striking out Sox center fielder Victor Hall and getting shortstop Evan Sobel to pop out in foul territory to end Reno's comeback attempt and earn the save.
"We had an opportunity to take the lead (earlier in the game) and hit the ball well, but early in the game we made some baserunning mistakes," said Silver Sox manager Les Lancaster. "Our pitching was there, but we made a mistake at the wrong time. Mental mistakes are what cost us today."
Reno was never able to take the lead and trailed 6-2 in the top of the fourth before chipping away at the lead until managing to tie it 6-6 in the sixth, when Sobel drove in former University of Nevada infielder Bub Madrid.
Sobel went 2-for-6 with 1 RBI and Madrid finished the game 1-for-3, while scoring three runs.
Starter Chris Marini went six innings for the Silver Sox, giving up six runs (five earned) and seven hits. He also struck out four batters and walked three.
Nate Sevier pitched two scoreless innings in relief for the Sox, giving up one hit and striking out four before William Krout came in to begin the ninth.
After striking out David Ramirez and getting Ryan Webb to fly out to center, Krout gave up a single to Adonis Harrison, who stole second. Randall Shelley popped up a Krout offering, but left fielder Caleb Maher was tagged with an error when he overran a catchable ball, enabling Harrison to score and give the Armada a 7-6 lead.
Long Beach designated hitter Jeff LaRue concluded his 2-for-4 night by hitting his second homer of the game to make it 9-6. LaRue, who finished with 4 RBI, put Long Beach up 2-0 with his first-inning home run.
Harrison finished 4-for-5, with 1 RBI and scored two runs for Long Beach.
In spite of the loss, Lancaster said he was happy with the work he got out of his bullpen.
"Nate has an outstanding arm," Lancaster said. "We want to rely on him heavily. We didn't want to overuse him because we want to use him three or four days in a row. Krout did his job. The guy (Maher) overran the ball)."
Chris Wakeland gave the Armada a 4-0 cushion in the third, driving in Webb and Shelley with a double, high off the center-field wall.
Hall was a bright spot for the Silver Sox, getting hits in his first three at bats (he ended up 3-for-5, with 3 RBI) and moving Madrid to third with a sacrifice bunt in the sixth.
Hall drove in Madrid with a triple in the third to put Reno on the board and catcher Marcus Jensen drew the Sox within 4-2 later in the inning by bringing in Hall when he grounded out to second.
The Silver Sox were constantly threatening, but ended up stranding 14 runners to Long Beach's seven.
"Only in a couple of innings we weren't able to get guys on," Lancaster said. "Their pitchers made pitches when they had to. It's part of the game."
Chad Clark picked up the win for the Armada, pitching 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball. He gave up one hit and struck out two after coming in for Justin Ramsey, who relieved starter Bud Smith in the fourth.
Smith surrendered five runs (two earned) in 3 1/3 innings of work, while Ramsey gave up one earned run in 3 2/3.
Webb and Harrison each had RBI-singles to put Long Beach up 6-2 in the fourth before the Silver Sox began their gradual rally to tie the game.
Reno got within one in the bottom of the fourth, sending seven batters to the plate. Right fielder Phil Grau walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Madrid, who made it to first on a throwing error by third baseman Randall.
Hall ripped a triple to the right field gap and brought both runners in to make it 6-4. Two batters later, Hall scored on a Ramsey wild pitch to make it 6-5.
"Hall's first four at bats were outstanding," said Lancaster, for whom Hall played last year at Mesa. "He had the type of game he'll be playing. We knew what we were getting with him."
What Lancaster didn't know what he would get was the kind of enthusiasm and attendance from the Reno fans.
"We had a nice crowd and a great turnout," Lancaster said. "We appreciate the support they gave us. Hopefully they'll be back every day. We have a good product. We're going to win some games and lose a few."
The Silver Sox will get a chance at revenge today against the Armada, in the second of their three-game series, which begins at 6:35 p.m. Ben Thurmond will start for the Silver Sox.
Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak - a Golden Baseball League investor - will throw out the first pitch. The first 1,000 fans will receive a Sajak bobble head.
Gates open at 5:35 p.m.