TACOMA, Wash. – Designated hitter Rob Brantly’s two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning provided the difference in the Tacoma Rainiers (80-62) 8-7 victory over the Reno Aces (76-67) on Sunday afternoon at Cheney Stadium.
The walk-off two-bagger from Brantly pushed Tacoma into 80-win territory for the 10th time in franchise history, and the first time since 2008.
Trailing 7-2 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, the Rainiers would go on to score six runs over the final three frames to grab their 80th victory of the year.
Shortstop Mike Freeman led the way for the Rainiers on offense, finishing 4-for-5 with two runs, one home run, and three RBI. Center fielder Norichika Aoki (2×4, 2 R, 2B, RBI) also chipped in a multi-hit performance.
Freeman blasted Tacoma out in front 2-0 with a two-run home run to right-center in the bottom of the third inning. It was his third home run since joining the Rainiers on August 1.
Reno tied the game with two runs in the top of the fifth and took a commanding 7-2 lead with a five-run outburst in the top of the seventh. A leadoff solo blast from former Tacoma third baseman Carlos Rivero and a grand slam home run from Mitch Haniger put the Aces out in front.
Tacoma rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame cut the Aces lead to three runs at 7-4. Second baseman Daniel Robertson laced a one-out RBI double off the wall in left to start the scoring, and Aoki followed two batters later with a sacrifice fly to left field to score the second run.
The Rainiers would proceed to mount their biggest final-inning rally of the season and capped it off with their ninth walk-off victory. Left fielder Mike Baxter and catcher Marcus Littlewood sandwiched the first out of the inning with a pair of walks. Aoki followed with a single and Freeman drove in his third run of the night with an RBI single. First baseman Stefen Romero lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to bring the Rainiers within one run. Brantly provided the heroics, roping the second pitch he saw from Aces closer Jimmie Sherfy into the gap in right-center to score the winning runs.
Rainiers starting pitcher Sam Gaviglio worked 6.2 innings in his final outing of the regular season – he allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits while issuing no walks and striking out seven.
Kraig Sitton allowed three runs while recording just one out in the seventh inning. Kevin Munson (2-1) earned the win after working the final 2.0 frames for Tacoma and striking out all but one batter – he finished the afternoon with a season-high five strikeouts.
Tacoma and Reno wrap up the regular season with game four tomorrow afternoon at 1:35 p.m. PT. Right-hander Joe Wieland (13-6, 5.54) will get the start for the Rainiers opposite Aces righty Billy Buckner (1-1, 6.00).
Tickets for the Rainiers 2016 home playoff dates can be purchased by visiting the Cheney Stadium Box Office, calling 1-800-745-300, or by visiting www.tacomarainiers.com. The most up-to-date news and notes about the Rainiers throughout the season can be found by following the Rainiers on Twitter (@RainiersLand) or liking the team on Facebook.