The Reno Silver Sox are the Golden Baseball League's top team at 12-4. But it sure would be a lot nicer to be 13-3.
A mental lapse in the seventh inning possibly cost Reno another win as it went on to lose 9-7 to the Chico Outlaws in 10 innings on Monday at Peccole Park.
"That was a missed sign," said Reno manager Les Lancaster about the fateful play in the seventh. "Our mental approach right now is a little down from what it was the first of the year. That's part of the game, I know that."
But it was still a bitter pill to swallow for Lancaster, who believes he has the most talented team in the league and went as far as to say that the other teams in the league shouldn't "even come close to us" when it's at its best.
Ironically, the Silver Sox perfectly executed a hit and run before its mental breakdown to put themselves in a position to win the game. With the score tied 5-5, Marcus Jensen singled. Edgar Varela then singled on the hit and run to give Reno runners at first and third with one out.
But on an 0-2 count, Varela took off and Doug Gredvig took the pitch low for a ball, hanging Varela out to dry. Gredvig then struck out to end the inning.
Jason Martinez pitched three scoreless innings in relief for Reno, but was roughed up in the 10th, with Chico able to execute in the same exact situation in which the Silver Sox failed.
Alex Froloff and Steve Booker singled to give Chico runners at first and third with one out. Bobby Gandolfo then executed a hit and run, grounding out to second, but the Outlaws stayed out of the inning-ending double play and Froloff scored to make it 6-5. After Desi Wilson singled, Mike Mallory hit a three-run home run to make it 9-5.
"We kind of gave into Mallory and he did some major damage to us," Lancaster said.
Reno stil had a chance to win it in the bottom of the 10th after Philip Grau, who had three hits, doubled, and Victor Hall followed with a two-run homer. Mike Done and Jensen singled to bring Varela to the plate as the winning run, but Varela grounded out to end the game.
It was a back and forth game with Reno jumping out to a 4-0 lead, Chico coming back to go up 5-4 and then the Silver Sox tying it 5-5.
"We got out to an early lead," said Done, who had two hits. "They battled back. Chico's a good team.
"We battled back and tied it up. Extra innings are always fun. We finished with the tying run at the plate and the winning run at the plate and that's all you can ask for."
Done has six hits in his last two games. He went 4-for-4 in a 9-5 win over Chico on Sunday, his first game back from serving a suspension that resulted from a melee last week in Yuma. "I was just excited to get back into the swing of things," Done said.
Reno took a 4-0 lead in the fourth when Done and Jensen singled and Caleb Maher followed with a two-run double. Evan Sobel, who also had three hits, hit another two-run double to make it 4-0.
Ben Thurmond was sailing along for the Silver Sox, facing the minimum of hitters through five innings. He allowed a single and walked a batter, but both runners were wiped out by double plays.
But Thurmond struggled in the sixth, giving up five runs on seven hits. He finished the inning before being pulled. Jesse Kovacs hit a two-run homer, Mallory hit a two-run single and Craig Kuzmik hit an RBI single to give Chico a 5-4 lead.
"He just got some of the pitches up," Lancaster said. "A good hitting team is going to take advantage of it and they were able to do that."
Reno tied it in the bottom of the sixth when Grau singled and scored on Sobel's double.
The Silver Sox begin a 10-game road trip tonight in Fullerton, with Hideki Nagasaka the scheduled starting pitcher. Lancaster said the road trip will "dictate if we can clinch the first half," referring to the title in the 40-game first half season.
Notes: Reno made more roster moves on Monday, releasing infielder Alberto Carmenates and replacing him by signing former Reed and UNLV standout C.J. Lang. Hector Zamora was also placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury and to replace him, the Silver Sox signed outfielder Nate Fisk.