The last Thirsty Thursday of the season provided a fun backdrop for one of the better pitching duels of the second half. Jamie Walczak (W, 4-5) and Willy Paredes (L, 3-4) went nose-to-nose for five solid innings before the Blaze finally punched through, batting around in the 6th to score the only runs for either team in the game.
The Rawhide had a few chances in the middle innings. In the 4th, Visalia took advantage of an error and a single to put runners at first and third with nobody out, but Walczak bore down, striking out Keon Broxton and Carter Bell before a flyout ended the threat. Then, just one inning later, the Rawhide put runners at the corners with only one out on a walk and a base hit, but Walczak again worked his sorcery. A flyball to rightcenter was hauled in by Steve Selsky, and a one-hop laser to the plate gunned down the Rawhide runner trying to tag, doubling him up to end the inning.
That was, for all intents and purposes, the only two chances for Visalia, as Brooks Pinckard allowed just a walk in his two innings of relief, and Carlos Contreras worked a scoreless 9th around the second Blaze error of the game.
The Bakersfield offense had brief window, and took advantage of it. Stephen Hunt opened the 6th with a solo homer to center, his second longball in as many games, and that gave Bakersfield a 1-0 lead. The dinger seemed to rattle Paredes, who promptly walked Theo Bowe, and after a strikeout of Niko Vasquez, Paredes ran out of gas. Selsky singled, Travis Mattair doubled, Juan Duran hit a sacrifice fly, and Dominic D'Anna singled in the fourth and final run of the inning, and the Blaze grabbed the game by the shoulders, going on to win, 4-0.
The win gives the Blaze a series win over the Rawhide, and moves the team to a strong 15-10 mark against their rivals this year. With four more games on the homestand, the Blaze now turn their attention to the Dodgers affiliate, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, on Fireworks Friday. First pitch is set for 7:15pm, with Josh Smith taking the hill for Bakersfield, and JonMichael Redding for Rancho.
Can't make it? Listen LIVE on internet or radio as Dan Besbris brings the Blaze Game of the Week at BakersfieldBlaze.com and SmartTalk AM-1230 -- the pregame show will begin at 7:05pm.