San Bernardino, CA- The Inland Empire 66ers dropped the Cal League schedule's first-half finale 6-2 to the Visalia Rawhide on Saturday at San Manuel Stadium. The loss cost the Sixers the opportunity to win the four-game series and instead they settled for a split with the Rawhide.
The Rawhide got on the board in the first off starter Mark Sappington (1-4) when Steve McQuail's sac fly scored Raul Navarro who had doubled earlier in the frame. Navarro finished the night with three hits. The Rawhide scored twice more in the second to make it 3-0 Visalia on Brandon Jacobs' two-run homer to left, his ninth of the year. Jacobs finished the game 3-for-4.
Inland Empire would score two times in the third off Aaron Blair (1-2) when Andrew Ray doubled to open the bottom of the inning. He scored on Sherman Johnson's RBI single. It was Johnson's team-best 37th RBI. Johnson would score when Wade Hinkle knocked off the wall in left to make it 3-2. The Sixers would not score again. Hinkle's next hit was an eighth inning triple. It marked the Sixers first hit since the fourth inning as the Rawhide retired a stretch of 13 in a row at one point. Visalia added runs in the fourth, fifth and ninth innings to open the lead to 6-2.
Blair finished the game with nine K's over seven frames. He allowed two runs on five hits. JR Bradley tallied his second save with two innings of two-hit work with two K's.
Rudy Flores finished the game with four hits for Visalia. The first baseman struck out in his first at bat which made it eight consecutive at-bats with going down on strikes. He snapped out of it in a major way by singling three times and doubling once. Socrates Brito had three hits as well, including a triple.
The 66ers finished the first half 25-45 overall, while the Rawhide completed the half at 36-34. The Cal League will enjoy a four-day All-Star Break. The Sixers will send Austin Adams as the lone player in uniform to the California League/Carolina League All-Star game on Tuesday June 17th in Wilmington, DE. Pitchers Kurt Spomer and Nate Smith were also tabbed to the team but will not participate due to their respective promotions to double-A Arkansas. The IE Field Staff will serve in that capacity for the California League team in the contest. Inland Empire opens the second half at 7:05 pm at Rancho Cucamonga on June 19th. It can be heard live at 66ers.com.