In the first two games of the series, the Modesto hitters made Rawhide Ballpark look like Coors Field, having scored 20 runs. And from the sixth pitch of the final game of the set, it became clear that trend wouldn’t change. Braden Bishop took Rawhide starter Justin Donatella deep for his first home run of the season, and from there the offense got to work.
Donatella would load the bases in the first before eventually working out of the jam, but fell victim to poor defense behind him in the second. A fielding error by third baseman Marty Herum on a ground ball and a throwing error by catcher Matt Jones attempting to catch Bishop stealing third allowed a further two runs to score, giving Modesto a three-run lead. Then in the third inning, after walking Joey Curletta, Nuts newcomer Joe DeCarlo roped a double down the left-field line past Herum, extending the lead to 4-0. Donatella (0-4) would pitch a scoreless frame in the fourth before exiting the game, the second straight starter that Modesto (11-6) had chased before completing fifth inning.
Nick Baker pitched three scoreless innings and the Rawhide gave one run of support before Cameron Gann took over in the eighth. The Nuts would go on to score three more off of Gann, highlighted by a two-run homer from DeCarlo, to make it a 7-1 game. Bud Jeter pitched a scoreless ninth and the Rawhide were retired quietly to make it a 7-1 final score.
Visalia (9-8) totaled four hits on the afternoon and they all belonged to Herum and Daniel Lockhart, with two apiece. Lockhart also scored the lone run of the game for the Rawhide by hitting a leadoff triple in the sixth inning and coming in on an RBI groundout off the bat of Sergio Alcantara. Nuts starter Pedro Lopez was outstanding, tossing six innings and allowing just the one run on three hits while striking out six.
Lockhart finished with a double and a triple in three trips to the plate, and Herum collected two singles for Visalia. But once again the Rawhide were unable to muster a significant rally to erase a late deficit: the Rawhide have completed only one come from behind win in the seventh inning or later this season.
The loss sent the Rawhide to their first sweep of the year and puts Visalia two games out of first place behind the Nuts. The Rawhide have won only one game in their first six contests at Rawhide Ballpark this year.
The homestand will continue tomorrow with the first Make a Difference Monday of the season when the Rawhide welcome the Lake Elsinore Storm to Visalia. All fans who bring a donation item for the Valley Oak SPCA will receive a free ticket to the Pasture seating section, with the option to upgrade for a discounted price. First pitch is at 6 PM and the probable starters are RHP Joel Paymaps (1-0, 4.80 ERA) for Visalia and RHP Chris Huffman (1-0, 0.00 ERA) for Lake Elsinore. Tickets are still available at rawhidebaseball.com.