VISALIA - For the second game in a row, the Rawhide were walk-off winners, this time in extra innings as the hometown team beat the Modesto Nuts 5-4 on Thursday night at Rawhide Ballpark. Kerry Jenkins saw one pitch as the pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 12th inning, but it was one he liked as he shot it into right field, and with some help from the Nuts defense, Tom Belza would come home from second to score the winning run.
Rawhide starter Keith Hessler pitched 5.0 innings, giving up three earned runs on nine hits while striking out four batters.
Modesto put together a two-out rally in the top of the 3rd inning against Rawhide starter Keith Hessler to get on the board first. It started with a two-out infield single from Brian Humphries which was followed by a base hit to center field, setting the stage for Harold Riggins. Riggins squared up a fastball and sent it to the top of the barn in right field for his second homerun of the season, giving the Nuts a 3-0 lead.
The Rawhide took a while to get it going offensively, but they were finally able to crack the scoreboard in a big way in the bottom of the 5th. The first three batters of the inning reached safely, collectively stringing together two base hits and a walk off of Chris Jensen. That brought up Wednesday afternoon's walk-off hero Jake Lamb who for the second time in as many days, stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. With one swing of the bat, Lamb unloaded on a fastball and launched a grand slam to deep left field, giving the Rawhide a 4-3 lead. Lamb finished 4-for-6 on the evening with the homer and four RBI.
The Nuts would strike back in the top of the 7th, once again with two outs. Brian Humphries hit his first homerun of the season to right field off reliever Seth Simmons to tie it up at 4-4. All of the scoring had been done via the longball to that point in the game.
The Rawhide threatened throughout the late innings, as they got runners into scoring position in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, but were never able to push the go-ahead runs across.
Willy Paredes (1-1) kept the Rawhide in the game throughout extras, tossing 3.0 scoreless innings on just one hit and a walk while fanning five Nuts batters.
In the bottom of the 12th inning, Tom Belza led things off with a base hit single off Kraig Sitton (0-1). Sean Jamieson laid down a successful sacrifice bunt to move Belza into scoring position. Two batters later, Kerry Jenkins pinch-hit for Chris Ellison and swung on the first pitch he saw, making good contact for a hard single into right. Hitting coach Bobby Smith initially put the stop sigh up for Belza as he rounded third, but the right fielder Juan Crousset did not field the ball cleanly which allowed Belza to come home as the winning run.
With the win, the Rawhide improve to 18-9 and remain 1.0 game back of San Jose for the division lead. The Rawhide have now won 13 straight games at Rawhide Ballpark, with their last home loss dating back to April 7th against San Jose. The Rawhide start a four-game road trip tomorrow against Stockton before coming back for a brief home series against High Desert starting Wednesday.