VISALIA, CA - For the second consecutive night, the bullpens of the Rawhide and 66ers were trading scoreless innings while dominating. Bud Jeter had already pitched a perfect 9th inning and had retired one batter in the ninth. With a 2-2 count to the 9 batter Jake Yacinich, Jeter left a pitch over the plate and Yacinich made him pay, blasting a solo homer into the 66ers bullpen down the right field line, giving Inland Empire their first lead of the ballgame, 1-0.
And it ended up being the only run of the game.
Jeremy Rhoades was summoned from the bullpen and shut the door, retiring the Rawhide in order with a pair of strikeouts to seal the victory for Inland Empire. Rhoades (SV, 1) converted his first save opportunity of the season to give the 66ers (4-6) back-to-back victories and a series victory for the first time this season.
Rhodes had taken over for right-hander Tyler Warmoth (W, 1-0), who had delivered two scoreless innings of relief, allowing only one batter to reach when he walked Matt Jones in the eighth inning.
But until the 10th inning, the starting pitching had been the story of this game. Visalia starter Trevor Simms had to work through constant stress, stranding 7 runners on base in his five innings of work. But he didn't allow a run and struck out eight, while walking two, hitting two batters, and giving up four hits. Jake Jewell, who had started for Inland Empire, dominated over his seven innings of work, giving up just two hits while ringing up eight strikeouts and hitting one batter. Jewell, who entered the season as the Angels' 28th ranked prospect by MLB.com, and who was ranked as high as 5th last year, put out every indication of deserving his pedigree while moving his fastball around the zone and using it to set up his breaking pitches.
Matt McPhearson started the first inning with a bang by driving a double into the right-center field gap. But McPhearson slipped while going around first base, turning what could have been a leadoff triple into the two-bagger he ended up with. Sergio Alcantara then chopped a grounder to short and, after a hesitation, McPhearson elected to try and take third, where he was thrown out by Connor Justus.
Such was the Rawhide's luck tonight.
Visalia (6-4) only had one other hit, a Colin Bray single in the second inning. After stealing second, Bray advanced to third on a fly ball to center off the bat of Daniel Lockhart. But he was left there. That was the last time a Rawhide baserunner would advance past first base tonight.
The 66ers had a scoring chance in the sixth inning when Cameron Gann had runners on first and second with two outs. But Rawhide Manager Shelley Duncan brought in Kirby Bellow to get a left on left matchup against Brendon Sanger. Bellow Struck out Sanger, and a total of five batters over his two and a third innings of work.
Visalia pitchers struck out 16 batters tonight, tying the club's season high and giving them 47 over the series, and 63 over their past four games. But for the first time this year, the Rawhide lost a series.
The Rawhide have a day off tomorrow and will begin a four-game series in San Jose next Tuesday before returning home for a seven-game homestand on April 21. Tickets and more information about promotions on the next Rawhide homestand are available on rawhidebaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.