SAN JOSE - Getting hot at the right time can really give any team a great shot at winning a championship. Right now, the Rawhide are one of the hottest teams in the California League, and they are beating quality opponents down the last stretch of the regular season. The San Jose Giants had won ten games in a row before running into this Visalia team, as the Rawhide clinched a playoff berth with a win on Tuesday night, and were victorious once again with a 7-5 win on Wednesday night at Municipal Stadium in San Jose.
For the second night in a row, quality pitching kept the Rawhide in the game long enough for the offense to ignite. Eddie McKiernan (W, 8-3) turned in six quality innings, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks. Chris Lofton led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple and would score two batters later on a sacrifice fly from Mac Williamson, putting the Giants up 1-0.
The Rawhide were able to tie the game in the top of the third thanks to a couple of San Jose miscues. With Evan Marzilli on first base and two away, Giants starter Ty Blach (L, 12-4) threw a wild pitch which allowed Marzilli to move into scoring position. After Sean Jamieson drew a walk, third baseman Ryan Cavan threw wildly to first base on a Jake Lamb ground ball, and the speedy Marzilli made the Giants pay as he raced home and tied the game at 1-1.
The Rawhide offense roughed up Blach in the top of the 5th inning, pushing across five runs in the frame. It all started on another Cavan error, as Marzilli reached with one out. Kevin Medrano singled and Jamieson was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Jake Lamb. The mid-season California League All-Star made Blach and the Giants pay with a bases clearing double, making it 4-1.
After a single from David Peralta put runners at the corners, San Jose continued to put themselves in a hole with sloppy play. Reliever Chris Marlowe threw a wild pitch which allowed Lamb to score, and an errant throw from the catcher Jeff Arnold permitted Peralta to come all the way home from first base, increasing the Rawhide lead to 6-1.
David Peralta tacked on another run with an RBI-single in the top of the seventh, plating Sean Jamieson to give the 'Hide a six-run cushion.
The Giants got themselves back into the game in the bottom of the seventh. Anthony Meo struck out the first two batters he faced, but ran into a wall after that. Bobby Haney ripped a two-out double and Elliott Blair followed it up with a walk, putting two runners on for the Giants. Chris Lofton then hit his second triple of the game to plate both runners. After allowing a single to Matt Duffy and walking Mac Williamson, Meo was relieved by Cody Wheeler.
Wheeler was able to induce a groundout to end the inning, but not before giving up an RBI-single to Ricky Oropesa, making it a 7-5 game.
Wheeler stayed in the game in the bottom of the eighth inning and did a terrific job with a perfect, 1-2-3 inning.
Seth Simmons (S, 1) was summoned in the bottom of the ninth and was able to pick up his first save of the season. Simmons struck out two batters and picked off Elliott Blair at second base for the final out.
The Rawhide will go for the series sweep over the San Jose Giants on Thursday night before returning home on Friday for the final homestand of the regular season. Visalia will face the Bakersfield Blaze for a four-game series before heading into the postseason.