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Baird perfect in imperfect slugfest04/17/2011 3:42 AM ET
By Daren Smith / MLB.com
Five was the magic number Saturday night for Dillon Baird and the Inland Empire 66ers.
Baird went 5-for-5 with a pair of homers and five RBIs as the 66ers scored five times in the top of the ninth inning to pull out a 24-19 victory over the Bakersfield Blaze.
Dwayne Bailey broke out of a prolonged slump with a triple, double and five RBIs to help Inland Empire win the longest nine-inning game in California League history at 4 hours, 55 minutes.
Baird hit a solo shot in the third inning, but the 66ers trailed, 16-7, before erupting for 10 runs in the sixth. Jon Karcich launched a three-run blast and Baird capped the rally with a two-run homer that put Inland Empire ahead, 17-16.
Baird, a 2009 11th-round pick, added an RBI single in the seventh, but Bakersfield answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning and tied it, 19-19, in the eighth on Eric Campbell's RBI double. Campbell finished 4-for-4 with a career-high six RBIs to raise his league-leading batting average to .559.
Undaunted, the 66ers batted around again in the ninth. Baird doubled home Matt Long with the go-ahead run, then scored on Bailey's two-run double. Jose Jimenez followed with a sacrifice fly and Long capped the scoring with an RBI single. Long's fourth hit of the night was Inland Empire's 31st, one short of the league record set by Lake Elsinore in a 33-18 victory over High Desert on June 28, 2009.
That slugfest had been the longest nine-inning game in Cal League annals at 4 hours, 10 minutes.
The Blaze loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Jose Perez (1-0) retired Mark Fleury on a grounder to first base. It marked only the second inning in which Bakersfield failed to score.
Perez worked 1 1/3 innings and was one of only two pitchers who did not allow a run; Blaze reliever Andrew Bowman tossed 1 2/3 scoreless frames.
Jose Salinas (0-1), Bakersfield's sixth pitcher, was charged with five runs on five hits and two walks in one inning.
Every starter in the 66ers' lineup collected at least two hits, with leadoff man Jean Segura going 5-for-8 with three runs scored and a pair of RBIs.
Andrew Means was 5-for-7 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored at the top of the Blaze lineup, while 2010 Midwest League All-Star Henry Rodriguez scored four times and chipped in two hits and a pair of RBIs.