VISALIA, CA - With runs at a premium in a pitcher's duel between Sam McWilliams and Lancaster starter Rico Garcia, it was four walks issued by reliever Miguel Aguilar in the seventh that proved to be the difference in a 3-1 Rawhide loss.
Aguilar (L, 0-2) had relieved McWilliams with two outs in the sixth after McWilliams concluded his brilliant outing by striking out Colton Welker. Aguilar finished the inning by striking out Roberto Ramos but lost command in the seventh.
He walked Tyler Nevin, Willie Abreu, Joel Diaz, and Carlos Herrera to bring what would be the winning run across. Austin Mason was summoned with the bases loaded and induced an inning-ending double play from Forrest Wall, but the damage was done.
Lancaster added an insurance run off of Tommy Eveld in the ninth when Vince Fernandez walked with two outs, stole second, and came home on a Joe Diaz single. Visalia brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth when Marcus Wilson walked, but Reid Humphires (SV, 4) shut the door.
McWilliams put together a career start and came out of the gates firing on all cylinders. He struck out the side in order in the first inning and, after a leadoff walk to Ramos in the second, struck out the side once again. McWilliams pitched into the sixth inning for the first time this season and struck out a career-high 12 hitters over his outing. It was the first time in his professional career that he struck out ten or more batters.
McWilliams allowed just one run in the fourth inning when Colton Welker doubled and came home to score on a Nevin single. The run ended a streak of 17.1 consecutive scoreless innings that McWilliams had built since April 10.
Garcia (W, 3-1) matched every zero that McWilliams hung on the scoreboard. He lasted through seven innings and allowed one run on four hits while tying his season-high with eight strikeouts and no walks. The lone run he allowed was a solo shot to Marcus Wilson (1) that tied the game 1-1 in the fourth.
The defeat sent Visalia (12-9) to their first series loss of the season. The Rawhide remain one game behind San Jose in the Cal League North. Lancaster (11-10) claimed sole possession of first with the victory.
Visalia will welcome Inland Empire to Rawhide Ballpark for a three-game set tomorrow evening. RHP Bo Takahashi (2-0, 2.25) will be on the bump against 66ers RHP Jason Alexander (0-1, 9.00). First pitch is at 7:00 PM and tickets are still 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.