San Bernardino, CA- The Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino dropped the series-opener 4-0 to the Visalia Rawhide on Tuesday at San Manuel Stadium. The 66ers have not scored a run in their last two contests spanning 18 innings.
The contest was scoreless through four innings as both Inland Empire starter Jaime Barria (1-3) and Visalia hurler Ryan Atkinson (2-0) were dominant. With two outs in the fifth and a runner at first the Rawhide (18-14) jolted Barria with a two-run homer from Grant Heyman to take a 2-0 lead. It was Heyman's fifth dinger of the year. Barria ended up going six innings (four of them with the Rawhide set down in order) and allowed the two runs on three hits with no walks and six Ks but shouldered the tough-luck loss. Meanwhile Atkinson was rolling. He allowed baserunners in just two of his six innings just like the Sixers' starter. The only hit allowed by the former Univ. of Cincinnati Bearcat was a double to Inland Empire (14-18) designated hitter Michael Barash in the second. He also allowed a pair of walks and struck out five batters.
The Rawhide padded their lead in the seventh when 66ers reliever Garrett Nuss walked a leadoff batter and then Austin Byler reached base on a swinging bunt base-hit. In the attempt at first the ball was thrown away allowing a run to score. The fourth and final run came home on Daniel Lockhart's sac fly. Visalia catcher Francis Christy led the way offensively with three hits including a double as well as calling a shutout, his pitching staff's third of the year. Inland Empire did not have a batter reach third base until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. The teams combined to go 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
The series continues Wednesday at 7:05 pm. The contest can be seen and heard live at 66ers.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.