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Visalia tallies 26 runs in onslaught05/16/2012 3:02 AM ET
By Sam Dykstra / Special to MLB.com
The Visalia Rawhide had totaled 24 runs in their last eight games from May 4-14. On Tuesday, the team had scored that many by the fifth inning.
The Rawhide produced 31 hits -- one shy of the California League record -- in a 26-11 slugfest at High Desert's notoriously hitter-friendly Mavericks Stadium, where the winds were gusting at a reported 30 mph Tuesday.
"Mother Nature helped us out," said first baseman Jonathan Griffin. "This is a fun park to hit in, especially for us hitters. But not only that, everyone was seeing the ball well tonight, so we had that working for us too."
Second baseman and lead-off hitter Mike Freeman tied a California League record with seven hits -- all singles -- in eight at-bats. The only other hitter on the circuit to collect seven knocks in a single contest was Reno's John Stevenson on July 1, 1980.
"It was definitely cool," said Freeman, whose average jumped 30 points to .265 because of his Tuesday output. "I'm not a power hitter, so those types of records are pretty safe. But I didn't even know about it until our broadcaster [Donny Baarns] came down and told me after the game. You can't take that away from me."
Griffin homered twice, produced five RBIs and fell a double short of the cycle as the squad's cleanup hitter. Not to be outdone, D-backs' No. 4 prospect Chris Owings scored five times and fell a triple shy of the cycle in a 4-for-6 performance, and No. 11 prospect Bobby Borchering went 4-for-7 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs.
Even rehabbing Major Leaguer Chris Young got in the action, going 2-for-5 with two doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored before exiting for a defensive substitution in the fourth inning.
In total, eight members of the Visalia starting nine tallied multiple hits in the rout, and the same number produced two RBIs or more. (Chris Valencia's one hit and Raywilly Gomez's one RBI were the exceptions.)
The Rawhide produced two, five, eight, seven and two runs respectively in the game's first five innings, forcing High Desert to burn through four different pitchers in the process. Starter Chris Sorce along with relievers Willy Kesler and Angel Raga were each tagged for six earned runs or more in a combined four innings of work.
The Visalia offense had ranked last in the California League in runs scored (138) leading into Tuesday's contest but leapfrogged Stockton (151), Lake Elsinore (160) and Inland Empire (160) when the 26 runs scored pushed them to 164 on the season.
"The offense is clicking here really for the first time," Freeman said. "We have some really good hitters on this team, but today was the first time that everyone seemed to be going at the same time. Guys were hitting the ball really well. It was nice to do for all of us."
Don't expect the Rawhide to dwell on Tuesday's outburst for too long.
"We have what's called the Midnight Rule here," Griffin said. "Once the clock turns to midnight, we kind of flip a switch and put everything behind us. But after this game, hopefully we can focus on seeing the ball as we did today and continue to keep hitting well going forward."
Mariners' No. 16 prospect Jack Marder just missed out on a cycle of his own, going 3-for-6 with a triple, home run and three RBIs in the Mavericks' losing effort. His .350 average on the season tops California catchers.
Right fielder James Jones went 3-for-5 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored as the ninth man in the High Desert lineup.