Class A Advanced California League games are more often than not characterized by a lot of runs and rather crooked-looking pitching lines.
But in Game 1 of a best-of-3 playoff series between Visalia and Modesto on Wednesday night, Eddie McKiernan ensured it'd be a low-scoring affair.
The Rawhide right-hander went 6 1/3 innings without allowing a run, scattering four hits and a walk while striking out two in picking up the win in a 4-2 victory over Modesto.
"Me and my catcher [Ronnie Freeman] were really on the same page from the beginning. We knew Modesto is a patient team and we knew we had to attack them, so we stuck with that game plan and got through six," McKiernan said.
McKiernan joined the D-backs organization this year after six seasons with the Angels. Taken in the 17th round of the 2007 Draft, the 24-year-old made it all the way to Triple-A with Los Angeles before the team cut ties with him this offseason.
The 24-year-old said he appreciated the opportunity to latch on with Arizona. He went 8-3 for the Rawhide during the regular season and posted a 3.51 ERA, striking out 54 and walking 20, in 77 innings.
He added it was a good feeling to be able to help his new teammates find some success in the postseason.
Visalia cruised along with a comfortable 3-0 lead through seven innings before Modesto made things a bit dicier with two runs in the top of the eighth.
The Rawhide tacked on an insurance run, though, in the bottom half of the eighth. Then closer RJ Hively struck out the side and walked one in the ninth.
McKiernan said despite the tight score, he was never really too concerned about the outcome.
"We know that Modesto's a really good team, and that if our pitchers don't execute, they can take advantage of it. Next thing you know, a big inning rolls up," he noted. "But I figured if I gave my team six, the bullpen is strong enough to close the door."
Offensively, Freeman also pushed things for Visalia, going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Gerson Montilla and Tom Belza also plated a run apiece.
"I mean from the very beginning [tonight] we felt very relaxed. We'll do our job on the mound and the hitters will do theirs and everything else will take care of itself," he said. "We've got the first win under our belt and with Barbosa throwing tomorrow the we feel very confident we can get that second win."
Andrew Barbosa will take the ball for Visalia in Game 2. The left-hander went 11-9 with a 3.81 ERA this year for the Rawhide. He struck out 160 while walking 70 in 134 2/3 innings.
In other playoff action:
Inland Empire 6, Rancho Cucamonga 3
Brian Hernandez and Abel Baker each drove in two runs apiece and Alex Yarbrough, who hit .313 with 80 RBIs during the regular season, went 3-for-5 with a double and scored twice. Zach Borenstein, who slugged .631 and knocked 28 homers this year, also pitched in a double, two runs and an RBI.