Big league boys Chester and Portola play at Aces stadium
Portola’s Will Marquette makes the catch a split second too late as Chester’s Cole Conner slides onto the base at the Aces Ballpark last Friday. The two teams got the chance of a lifetime: to play ball in a Triple-A stadium. Photo by Tiffany Williams
It’s every young baseball player’s dream to make it to the big leagues. Chester and Portola’s team came one step closer to that dream last Friday — at least for one day. The two teams got the chance to play in the Reno Aces’ Triple-A ballpark in downtown Reno.
Though the game was part of their regular schedule and affected their records, most of the players were so awestruck by the grandeur of the ballpark that they resembled fish out of water more than baseball players.
“The highlight of the game was definitely the stadium. Neither team actually played all that well,” joked Chester coach Terry Hernandez. “I think most of the players were just too awestruck; it intimidated them.”
The teams got to spend seven innings at the park and every player made it off the bench and onto the field. Chester won the ballgame 5-2.
The two teams struck a deal with the Reno Aces earlier in the year that enabled them to play on the field. Each team was responsible for selling 400 tickets to Aces’ games. Each ticket is redeemable for any game during the Aces’ season except those on Memorial Day and Fourth of July.
The ballpark is a much different venue than the ones Chester and Portola are used to. The Aces Ballpark, opened in 2009, has a capacity of 9,100 people. Around 350 people showed up to watch the two Plumas County teams compete.
“It was like going to Disneyland for some of our players,” said Portola coach Tim Brubaker. “I saw about five of my kids on the ground touching the grass. When I asked them what they were doing, they looked up at me and said, ‘We’ve never felt grass like this before!’”
A groundskeeper was on hand through the duration of the game to ensure everything ran smoothly. Some of Portola’s players remarked on how the field allowed no bad hops. The ball actually bounced like it was supposed to: a new experience for the Plumas players.
Hernandez and Brubaker agreed that the experience for the players was worth it. The two coaches decided to make the game at the Aces’ stadium an annual event.
Both coaches still have tickets available for sale for those interested in checking out the Aces Ballpark sometime this season. Tickets cost $10 apiece, and the money spent goes to benefit the high school teams. Those interested can call Brubaker at 251-3395 or Hernandez at 249-0365.