VISALIA, CA - An early two-run homer by Gareth Morgan kick started the Nuts offense and, though Visalia put the tying run on base in the ninth, the Rawhide fell 5-3 in the series opener against Modesto.
Two errors by the Rawhide defense accounted for a pair of unearned runs; one went against Visalia starter Riley Smith while the other was charged to Robby Sexton. Both runs proved to be the difference as the Rawhide fell for the fifth time in their last six games.
Though neither mishap led directly to a run, both errors extended Nuts rallies that tacked on insurance runs.
Smith (L, 4-5) turned in a Quality Start, allowing four runs, three earned, over 6.2 innings on five hits while striking out four and walking a career-high four. He set down 11 straight Nuts hitters after Morgan's home run in the second, the Rawhide offense never got started while Smith was hanging zeroes on the scoreboard.
Though the Rawhide were getting hits off of Modesto starter Nick Wells, they never came in bunches. Visalia got solitary hits in all six innings that Wells (W, 2-2) pitched, but didn't put together multiple hits in the same inning until Pavin Smith followed up a Stephen Smith single by hitting a two-run homer in the eighth.
Visalia (46-43/9-10) went hitless with runners in scoring position, the third time they've done so in their last 11 games. Tonight they put the tying run on second base in the second, fifth, and ninth innings, but their only production came on Smith's blast and a balk by Wells when Jason Morozowski reached third in the fifth.
Modesto (36-53/6-13) got by the Rawhide with three lefties: Wells, Danny Garcia, and Anthony McIver (SV, 1). Entering tonight's action, the Rawhide were hitting 50 points higher in batting average and had an additional 100 points in OPS against left handed pitchers.
Pavin Smith tallied the only multi-hit game for Visalia. Renae Martinez and Mark Karaviotis added additional doubles for the Rawhide while seven different Visalia players recorded a hit.
The Rawhide continue their start against Modesto tomorrow night. RHP Emilio Vargas (6-4, 1.75) will start for Visalia against Nuts RHP Darren McCaughan (4-6, 3.00). First pitch is at 7 PM and tickets are available on Rawhidebaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.