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Mental error proves costly for punchless Isotopes

Former Brave Jeff Bennett allowed just one unearned run for the Isotopes in a loss to Reno.
Former Brave Jeff Bennett allowed just one unearned run for the Isotopes in a loss to Reno.
Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

A mistake by a pitcher that costs a team one run in the Pacific Coast League is rarely that damaging. The Albuquerque Isotopes, on the other hand, could not even muster enough offense to overcome that.

The Reno Aces dealt the host Isotopes a 2-0 loss on Saturday night. A mental error by starting pitcher Jeff Bennett allowed the first run to score after an actual error by second baseman Delvis Morales had helped load the bases.

In the sixth inning, Reno (45-38) loaded the bases on a walk, Morales' error — a missed catch that could have started a 6-4-3 double play — and a single. Bobby Wilson then hit a comebacker right to Bennett (4-3), who seemed to forget there was only one out and threw to first base instead of home plate to start an inning-ending double play.

Instead, Aaron Cunningham scored the first run of the game. Bennett struck out Argenis Diaz to end the inning, but the right-hander was so upset when he left the field that he just marched up the ramp to the clubhouse rather than return to the dugout.

"I didn't even ask him (but) it's pretty obvious he forgot how many outs there were," manager Damon Berryhill said. "It's just a shame, we made two big mistakes that ended up hurting us in that ballgame. We had a pretty routine double-play ball that we couldn't get a good transfer and ended up not getting an out anywhere. Then we had the bases loaded groundball back to Jeff."

The unearned run overshadowed what was otherwise a solid start by Bennett. He went six innings, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out three batters.

"He pitched a hell of a game, really just kept them off-balance with the curveball," Berryhill said. "It's just a shame."

In the ninth, Matt Magill gave up an infield single to pinch hitter Tony Campana to start the frame. An errant pickoff throw enabled the fleet-footed Campana to advance to third and he scored the insurance run on a passed ball.

Normally, two runs would be an easy deficit to overcome, but the Isotopes were powerless against lefty Andrew Chafin (2-2) for the second time this season. Chafin tossed eight scoreless innings, scattering five hits and one walk while striking out nine and never letting a runner past second base.

Chafin allowed three runs on eight hits in seven innings in his Triple-A debut against the Isotopes in Albuquerque on May 23. He had not won a game since then.

"Offensively we couldn't get anything going," Berryhill said. "The kid did pitch a good ballgame against us. You've got to give him credit."

The Isotopes have struggled against lefties all season, but Chafin was especially good. He did not give up any extra-base hits.

"I think we're struggling with a lot of the offspeed stuff," Berryhill said. "He's done a good job against us keeping the ball down and we keep chasing offspeed. We have yet to really make an adjustment off of him."

Albuquerque and Reno will wrap up the series, now tied 2-2, on Sunday at 6:05 p.m. Right-hander Red Patterson (3-6, 4.81 ERA) gets the nod for the Isotopes against Aces right-hander Bo Schultz (5-5, 5.40).

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