Chihuhuas spark Fourth of July weekend

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Gaby Velasquez

Starting pitcher Bryan Rodriguez pitched eight innings only allowing one run against the Reno Aces.

Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor

With the Fourth of July weekend coming to a close, the El Paso Chihuahuas bested the Reno Aces at home to outright win the series 3-1. The Chihuahuas won the series on Sunday, July 3, when Austin Hedges hit a three-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Aces 4-1.

In the top of the first inning, Kyle Jensen of the Aces hit a RBI single to center field, which drove Mitch Haniger home and allowed the Aces to hit the scoreboard first.

The Chihuahuas responded at the bottom of the first with a run of their own. Hunter Renfroe, who leads the league with 19 home runs, hit a solo shot to tie the game 1-1.

After his one allowed run, starting pitcher Bryan Rodriguez did not allow another run by the Aces. He pitched eight innings, tallying 73 strikes and 25 balls. Reliever Frank Garces stepped into the game to close, and contributed with a perfect ninth inning with no hits or runs to seal the win.

The ninth inning go-ahead rally started with a Carlos Asuaje’s single to center field. Then, practically mimicking Asuaje, Renfroe hit a line drive to center field, leaving two on base with Hedges stepping to the plate. After fouling two balls, Hedges slammed a high pitch out of the park for the three-run homer.

Hedges, who hit his 12th home run in 14 games, went four-of-five during the game, and increased his batting average to .407 for the season.

The Chihuahuas (49-34) rest at the top of the southern division of the Pacific Coast League. They are five-and-a-half-games ahead of the Las Vegas 51’s as they near the all-star break.

Club has most all-stars in history

The Chihuahuas will send three representatives to the 2016 Sonic Automotive Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 13 in Charlotte, N.C. On June 30, the Pacific Coast League announced that Carlos Asuaje, Casey McElroy and Hunter Renfroe will take on the International League All-Stars.

Asuaje, who emerged in the Triple-A scene, has been one of the most consistent batters and infielders for the Chihuahuas. This is his third consecutive all-star game in as many different levels. He previously participated in the 2014 Single-A South Atlantic League All-Star Game and 2015 Double-A Eastern league All-Star Game. He is tied for first place in the league in triples (7) and is currently batting .324 for the club.

Combining speed with power, McElroy contributed heavily to the Chihuahuas with an extremely noteworthy performance in the month of May. During the first week of May, McElroy was named the PCL Player of the Week after he hit 14-for-28, posting a .500 batting average. He is has contributed with multiple hits in 12 out of 13 games and currently is batting .306.

Renfroe, one of the most explosive players on the team, leads Triple-A in almost every relevant batting category. He is first in home runs (19), hits (112), extra base hits (47) and runs scored (65). He was named PCL Player of the Week in the third week of April after hitting a home run in four consecutive games. This is his third minor league all-star game. He participated in the California/Carolina League All-Star Game for High-A Lake Elsinore in 2014, as well as the Northwest/Pioneer League All-Star Game.

Eying the Topes

Before the All-Star break, the Chihuahuas will travel on a seven-game road trip. They will take on the Albuquerque Isotopes, who are currently last place in the southern division, from July 4-6. Then, the Chihuahuas will take on the third-place team in the southern division, the Salt Lake Bees on July 7-10.

Afrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]