VISALIA, CA - Hitting home runs is something of a rare feat for Ryan LaPensee. However, he picked an ideal time to hit the long ball in last night's contest. With one on and one out, LaPensee lined a fastball down the left field line into the Rawhide bullpen, giving the Rawhide a 10-8 victory over the Bakersfield Blaze on Friday night at Rawhide Ballpark.
Last night's game saw a lot of back and forth action all night. There were a total of four lead changes and each team had come back to tie the game on two separate occasions.
Bakersfield got out to an early lead, putting two runs on the board in the first inning off of Rawhide starter Bradin Hagens. The Rawhide responded immediately, courtesy of Jon Griffins three-run home run, his 16th home run of the season. Griffin was 0 for his last 17 at-bats prior to the game.
The Blaze eventually regained the lead in the top of the 6th inning when Devin Lohman hit a lead off home run to left field to give the Blaze a 7-6 lead. In the bottom of the frame, LaPensee got on base with a single and Ender Inciarte delivered an impressive RBI triple to left field, as outfielder Juan Duran was unable to corral the ball in time to prevent extra bases. Inciarte came home on a wild pitch from Jaimie Walczak to give the Rawhide an 8-7 lead.
The Rawhide took that lead into the 9th inning and DJ Johnson was given the save opportunity. After two straight singles and an intentional walk, the bases were loaded with two outs. DJ Johnson went to deliver a pitch to Theo Bowe, however his cleat got caught on the front of the mound and Johnson was unable to release the ball, allowing Kurtis Muller to score on a balk.
Johnson was able to get out of the 10th inning without a threat and Jeremy Erben (W, 1-1) had no problems in the 11th inning. That set it up for the Rawhide in the bottom of the 11th. Tyson Van Winkle got on with a one-out single. Then LaPensee turned on a fastball from Andrew Brackman (L, 0-2) and put the ball over the left field fence and into the Rawhide bullpen.
Modesto lost on Friday night, allowing the Rawhide to move within a half game of first place for the second half lead. Game 2 of this series will be played on Saturday night at 7 pm at Rawhide Ballpark.