San Bernardino, CA- It was Opening Night at San Manuel Stadium on Thursday but the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino had to wait until Friday morning to notch a 4-3 win over the San Jose Giants in 16-inning game. Connor Justus drew a bases-loaded two-out walk to score Michael Hermosillo with the winning run at 12:25 AM in a game that took five hours and 17 minutes to complete.
Eight 66ers pitchers combined to allow just two earned runs over 16 innings with 18 strikeouts. Jeremy Rhoades (1-0) earned the win with a clean top of the 16th. Caleb Smith (0-1) took the loss for San Jose.
Justus got the Sixers (1-0) going in the first inning with an RBI double. Inland Empire added to the lead when DH Jared Walsh smacked a solo homer, his first, out to left-center field to boost the lead to 2-0. The Giants actually took a 3-2 lead in the seventh as a wild pitch on a strikeout, a two-base throwing error and a bad hop turned two-run triple all conspired against the home club.
Angels' 2016 first-round pick Matt Thaiss quickly tied the game however in the bottom of the seventh driving a homer out to right for his first round-tripper of the year. The game remained tied until Justus drew his game-winning walk. Of note in the game were bullpen efforts of Conor Lillis-White (2.0 IP, 0H, 1BB, 3K) Sam Holland (2.0 IP, 0H, 4K) and Winston Lavendier (1.2 IP, 4K) for the Sixers. Inland Empire starter Jaime Barria tossed four scoreless frames. CF Bryan Reynolds had three hits, a walk and was hit by a pitch for San Jose (0-1) in the loss.
The 66ers and Giants play game two of the season at 7:05 pm on Friday at San Manuel Stadium. The contest can be heard live at 66ers.com.