The California League may be known for its hitting, but it didn't bother Ben Lively in his circuit debut for Bakersfield.
Cincinnati's No. 13 prospect kept Modesto opponents off their heels with a near-perfect outing. The only blemish to his performance was a two-out homer to David Kandilas in the fifth inning in the Blaze's 10-2 win over the Nuts.
"I fell behind," the right-hander said. "But I didn't let it get to me. I can deal."
And deal he continued to do. The 6-foot-4 hurler sat down the next four batters, including striking out the side in the sixth.
"I had a good feel with all my pitches, I was able to get ahead," Lively said. "I recognized batters from the first time so that helped a lot. I fell behind a few times, but pretty much just kept pounding the strike zone."
The Central Florida product fanned seven batters without a walk over his six innings of work.
It marked Lively's first professional win, though not for lack of strong outings on his part. Last season across the Rookie Pioneer League and Class A Midwest League, the 2013 Draft pick posted an 0.88 ERA while fanning 56 opponents in 13 starts. In his last game of the season, the 22-year-old allowed two runs on two hits while striking out seven over four innings.
"I know it's a hitters' league, but I just gotta keep showing up," Lively said.
Bakersfield's offense was led by Marquez Smith, who contributed to half of the Blaze's runs. He smacked a two-RBI double, a sacrifice fly and an an RBI groundup. The first baseman has driven in a run in each of Bakersfield's first four games.
Lefty Rockies prospect Jayson Aquino (0-1) also made his Cal League debut Sunday. He was tagged for eight runs on six hits and three walks while striking out three over four innings.