Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
The bases were still 90 feet apart, the mound still 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end between the high school fields the Fernley High School baseball team usually gets to play on, and Greater Nevada Field, the home of the Reno Aces, where the Vaqueros beat Dayton 8-7 last Tuesday.
The game served as a practice run for the Aces gameday staff, with concessions open, and the teams were given the full professional experience, with their lineups on the big screen, walk up songs played for each batter and even the Major League scores on the scoreboard.
And in a season where there won’t be a state tournament championship to play for, on the heels of a season that was canceled just two weeks after it started last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, it provided the players a once in a lifetime opportunity to play on a professional field.
“It was kind of surreal, way nicer than anything any of us have played on,” senior catcher Austin Pryor said. “Just having an opportunity to play on something like this was amazing.”
” I think we were all pretty pumped excited, everyone I’m pretty sure had butterflies and stuff,” senior Tucker Hall said.
It may not have replaced all that’s been taken away from them, but the players considered it a pretty special experience nonetheless.
“It’s pretty cool just because of our season with Covid, being short and all, kind of makes up for it in a big way,” Pryor said.
The lined up along the first and third base lines as the starting lineups were introduced, the way they are on a professional team’s Opening Day. As the game progressed, each player’s stats were posted on the big screen as they came to bat. The only glitch in the experience was that the Aces’ stat keeping equipment stopped working during the game, and the staff wasn’t able to produce a box score.
The Vaqueros started the game with a four-run rally in the first inning and built a 6-1 lead before Dayton scored twice in the bottom of the fifth inning. Fernley got those two runs back in the top of the sixth, and it turned out they needed them both. In the bottom of the seventh, the DustDevils loaded the bases with one out, but the Vaqueros ended the game with a rare two-rundown double play. On a single that scored one run, the Vaqueros got one runner in a rundown between home and first, and he was forced to give up when the runner behind him had reached third base. But seeing his teammate trapped between third and home, that runner instead tried to go back to second, only to find that the trail runner had already advanced to second.
The players said facing Dayton, which had swept a three-game series from them to begin the season. Both Hall and Pryor said most of the discussion between the players in the days leading up to the game were about getting revenge on Dayton, and not about playing in a professional stadium.
“We lost to Dayton before, so we wanted to come back and kick their butts,” Hall said.