MODESTO, CA - A two-run first inning with clutch two-out, run-scoring hits by Renae Martinez and Ramon Hernandez gave the Rawhide a fresh start to the game and optimism heading into this crucial three-game series. But Modesto struck for four runs in the bottom of the frame to take the lead for good.
Riley Smith (L, 8-6) was the victim of bad luck in the first, giving up four hits, two of which didn't leave the infield and none of which were hard-hit. He settled down after that and retired ten of the next 11 hitters he faced. Modesto (59-75/29-35) struck for one more run against him in the sixth.
The Rawhide offense turned in plenty of scoring opportunities, thanks in part to some defensive mistakes by the Nuts. Jasrado Chisholm hustled to turn a leadoff hit into a double to lead off the third but was left on base when Modesto starter Darren McCaughan set down the next three hitters in succession.
In the fourth, a double play ball erased a leadoff single by Hernandez and in the fifth, Visalia (66-68/29-35) failed to capitalize on a pair of Nuts errors in the fifth, leaving the tying run in scoring position. An error and a pair of two-out walks by reliever Jack Anderson loaded the bases for the Rawhide in the fifth, but Jeffeson Medina came on to get the third out of the inning and left the bases loaded.
Visalia finally broke through for another run in the eighth, but Modesto countered with three more in the bottom of the frame to put the game out of reach with an 8-3 score.
The Rawhide were held to three hits in 14 at bats with runners in scoring position and went just one for ten in such situations after the first inning. They grounded into three double plays tonight, killing a rally in the fourth and erasing leadoff runners in the sixth and seventh. Visalia has hit into seven double plays in their last two games.
McCaughan failed to complete five innings of work, leaving with two outs in the fifth, so Anderson (W, 2-4) picked up the win over one inning. Spencer Hermann (SV, 1) recorded the final four outs.
Smith gave six innings for Visalia but was handed his first start since July 9, breaking a streak of seven straight starts. The Nuts have now been responsible for each of his past two losses.
Chisholm, Hernandez, Renae Martinez, and Daulton Varsho put up a pair of hits for the Rawhide. Chisholm and Varsho both scored once while Hernandez and Martinez and brought home a run. Luis Alejandro Basabe also drove home a run with an eighth-inning infield single.
Modesto's win paired with Stockton's win over San Jose move the Ports into sole possession of first place in the California League North Division second half standings. The Rawhide and Nuts are now tied for second with six games remaining. Visalia will make the playoffs if they or Stockton win the second half; a Ports second half championship would result in a wild card berth for the team with the next best overall record in the division, a figure that Visalia has clinched.
The Rawhide will look to take the middle game of the series tomorrow behind RHP Matt Peacock (4-3, 4.85). Modesto will counter with RHP Austin Hutchison (3-3, 3.80). First pitch is at 7:05 PM and the live radio broadcast will be available on rawhidebaseball.com.
The Visalia Rawhide are a professional baseball team in the Class A Advanced California League and are the only professional sports team in Tulare and Kings counties. The team has been an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks since 2007 and is entering their 72nd year of play in 2018. The Rawhide renovated their home at Recreation Ballpark in 2009 and have since become the largest gathering of individuals in Tulare County, having set an attendance record for the seventh time in the past eight seasons in 2017. In 2018, the Rawhide look to continue their reputation for hosting competitive baseball while providing affordable family entertainment. To be a part of the 2018 Visalia Rawhide season, please contact the Visalia Rawhide Ticket Office at 559.732.4433, visit us online at rawhidebaseball.com, or follow us on Facebook (TheRawhide), Instagram (@VisaliaRawhide), and Twitter (@VisaliaRawhide).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.