On the season's first fireworks Friday (presented by KGET), the Bakersfield Blaze couldn't get off the mat, and fell to the Visalia Rawhide 9-3.
In a game that featured 9 more hits from a Visalia team that failed to capitalize in Thursday's opener, the Blaze opened the door one too many times. Bakersfield committed 4 errors leading to 6 unearned runs, and that proved to be far too many.
The story of the night, outside of some sloppy play, had to be the Visalia pitching staff. Starter Andrew Chafin (W, 1-0) tossed 5 sterling innings, striking out 9. Mike Belfiore and Braden Cooper followed with 3 more scoreless frames, and the three combined for 14 strikeouts. The three also combined to retire, at one point, 21 consecutive Blaze batters.
Chad Rogers (L, 0-1) got the starting nod for the Blaze, but lasted just 2.2 innings. Rogers hurt his cause by issuing 3 walks, but some shaky defense led to a 4-run 3rd that sent Rogers to the clubhouse. John Holdzkom gave up 3 runs (1 earned) in 3.1 frames of relief, Jamie Walczak and Mike Griffin each tossed a scoreless inning, and Brooks Pinckard gave up a 2-run homer in the 9th.
The Blaze got their runs on a bases-loaded groundout in the 2nd, and a 2-run David Vidal homer in the 9th.
The series continues tomorrow on Blaze Schedule Magnet Night (Souvenir Saturday) presented by the Limousine Scene. Josh Smith will go for the Blaze, and Anthony Meo for the Rawhide in a battle of righthanders -- first pitch is scheduled for 7:15pm. The game is available on radio on the Blaze flagship station, KGEO SmartTalk-1230, with the pregame show beginning at 7:05pm.