When the Visalia Rawhide faced off against host High Desert Mavericks on May 15, the first play of the game was a complete and total anomaly. As recorded in the MiLB.com game recap, it went as follows: "Michael Freeman grounds out to first baseman Mickey Wiswall."
Despite this wholly inauspicious start, by the time the evening was over, Freeman had tied the all-time California League record for most hits in a game with seven. The 24-year-old first basemen singled in the second, twice in the third, and then again in the fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth innings en route to the record.
Yes, seven singles.
"It was definitely cool," Freeman told MiLB.com after the game. "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."
Of course, accumulating seven singles (and eight at-bats) in a nine-inning game is only possible if there's a total team effort. Freeman's performance was part of an otherworldly offensive night for the Rawhide, who tallied an absurd 31 hits en route to a 26-11 shellacking of the Mavericks. This hit parade was just two shy of the all-time California League record, as on June 28, 2009, Lake Elsinore collected 33 against those very same High Desert Mavericks (the Storm also scored 33 runs in that game, which took a league record four hours and 10 minutes to complete).
The Rawhide's most sustained stretch of offensive heroics came in the fourth frame, as the team reeled off eight straight hits (of which Freeman's single was the last). This was two shy of the Cal League record of 10, set by Rancho Cucamonga in 2000. And let's not forget that, despite losing by 15 runs, the Mavericks pounded out 19 hits of their own. That made for a total of 50 hits in the ballgame, an average of nearly three per half-inning.
Once it was all said and done, Rawhide first baseman Jonathan Griffin waxed tautological about High Desert's gusty Mavericks Stadium.
"This is a fun park to hit in," he said. "Especially for us hitters."
Turning the tables: On May 30, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox erupted for 22 runs, and they did it without the benefit of a home run or an error by the opposing Salt Lake Bees! It was just that kind of day for the beleaguered Bees, as one of their most effective "pitchers" was Paul McAnulty. The Major League veteran, in the starting lineup as a designated hitter, smashed a third-inning longball before helping out the depleted Bees bullpen by tossing a scoreless ninth frame.
McAnulty is no stranger to these sort of Pacific Coast League slugfests. On Aug. 23, 2011, his Bees were on the other side of the equation as they cruised to a 23-11 win over the Sky Sox. McAnulty, the only player on either team to appear in both contests, homered in that game as well.
The hits just keep on coming: The Kane County Cougars pounded out a season-high 21 hits in their May 28 game against the Beloit Snappers and still managed to lose by six runs (the teams were knotted up 9-9 after nine, and the score stayed that way until Beloit exploded for six 12th-inning runs. The two teams combined to collect 41 hits, just four shy of the all-time Midwest League record.
The Mark of Socorro: Kenny Socorro is listed as a shortstop, but when the rarely used Peoria Chiefs player/coach finally made his season debut on May 29 against Wisconsin it was -- where else? -- on the mound. Socorro entered the game in the 13th frame and went on to retire all six batters he faced. The Chiefs then pushed across a run in the bottom of the 14th, making Socorro the game's winning pitcher. He has yet to garner an at-bat this season.
Thrill of the Chase: Socorro wasn't the only position player to earn a win this month, however. In a game between New Orleans and Tucson on May 8, New Orleans' Chase Lambin entered the ballgame in the bottom of the 15th inning as a pinch-hitter for pitcher Jason Ray. Lambin, usually a third baseman, then stayed in the game and hurled a scoreless top of the 16th. He earned the win after Luke Montz blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the frame to give New Orleans an 11-8 victory.
Your walk-off fielder's choice of the month: Lynchburg edged Myrtle Beach by a score of 4-3 on May 5, with the game ending on an unsuccessful double play attempt. Jeff Seidel, writing in MiLB.com's Carolina League notebook, explains: "The Hillcats had runners on first and third with one out in the ninth inning when Tim Smith hit a soft grounder to second baseman Santiago Chirino. He tagged the runner heading to second but couldn't get Smith to finish the double play -- and that let the winning run score."
Unlikely candidate: Nick Noonan established a new Fresno Grizzlies team record May 20 when he collected eight RBIs as part of an 11-5 win over Round Rock. To write that Noonan wasn't the likeliest Grizzlies player to accomplish the feat would be an understatement. Chris Kutz, Fresno's media relations coordinator, provides some perspective:
"Noonan recorded the eight RBIs with a two-run single (first inning), two-run homer (third) and a grand slam (sixth). The two homers were the first two of Noonan's season, and it was his first two-homer game and grand slam of his career. Entering the game with 18 RBIs on the season, he increased his RBI total by 44.4 percent with the one game."
- Through June 2, six Florida State League pitchers had pitched a total of seven complete games. Their combined record in those games is a less-than-inspiring 2-5.
- Jupiter's Christian Yelich went 0-for-5 against the Tampa Yankees but still reached base and scored three times thanks to a triumvirate of fielding errors by Tampa second baseman Kelvin Castro.
- The Reno Aces have won 14 consecutive games against the Tacoma Rainiers. This includes two four-game sweeps in 2012, as well as the final six games the two teams played against one another in 2011.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog.