Nolan Arenado’s debut in Colorado Springs was upstaged by a familiar foe.
Arenado — the top prospect in the Rockies’ organization — launched a two-run home run off the Security Service Field scoreboard to tie the game in the third inning, but Reno’s Matt Davidson pounded a two-run shot in the ninth that sent the Aces past the Sky Sox 5-4 for an opening day victory Thursday.
It was first Triple-A appearance for both Arenado and Davidson, prospects who have been friends since early in their high school careers in Southern California.
“I was happy for him,” said Arenado, who went 1-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs. “We obviously wanted to get the win, but it was good to see one of your buddies do well.”
According to MLB.com’s list of third-base prospects, Arenado is ranked fourth and Davidson is sixth. Arizona took Davidson with the 35th pick in the 2009 draft, Colorado snagged Arenado at No. 59.
The two have played together at numerous scouting camps and in traveling-team leagues since they were sophomores in high school and played in the same Single-A league as pros. They will likely soon be playing in the same division in the major leagues.
“We go way back. He’s awesome,” said Davidson, who went 3-for-4 and broke a 3-3 tie in the ninth inning with his lined shot to left field. “We played together all the time. It’s pretty awesome to have friends like that.”
The Sky Sox, playing in front of an announced attendance of 3,944, had an opportunity to overcome Davidson’s homer in the bottom half of the ninth.
Arenado reached on an error and Tyler Colvin followed with a single. Charlie Culberson then leaked a single through the middle, scoring Arenado, but Colvin didn’t stop at third and was thrown out by a wide margin at the plate.
He would have represented the tying run on third base with nobody out. Instead, the rally quickly died one run short.
First-year Sky Sox manager Glenallen Hill, who was coaching third, said Colvin tried to advance as the result of miscommunication.
“I wasn’t expecting Tyler to go right there,” Hill said.
Jeff Manship (0-1) took the loss for the Sky Sox, while Reno’s Joe Paterson (1-0) was the winner after pitching a perfect eighth.
Sky Sox starter Christian Friedrich struck out five in 3 2/3 innings while working on a strict 60-pitch limit following a spring that saw him pitch sparingly after a flare-up of the lower-back injury that sidelined him with Colorado last year.
“There was no pain and restrictions,” said Friedrich, who didn’t throw a breaking ball. “It went nice and easy.”
Colorado Springs pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts and just two walks.
Former Sky Sox catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. will be inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame along with Edgar Martinez and George “Catfish” Metkovich.
Alomar’s primary accomplishments came with the Las Vegas Stars while he was in the San Diego Padres system. He played 12 games with the Sky Sox in 1991, hitting .400 and driving in 10 runs.