Five-Run Second Sends Rawhide to Win

Visalia was trailing before they even came to the plate tonight after Lake Elsinore had led for the entirety of the past two ballgames. But Marty Herum led off the second inning by roping a 2-0 offering from Storm starter Pedro Avila into the right-center field gap to start an offensive onslaught for the Rawhide. Austin Byler would follow with a home run and give Visalia the lead, from which they’d never look back. All things told, the Rawhide would send 10 men to the plate in the second, scoring six runs on seven hits while drawing two walks and loading the bases three times. Avila (0-2) departed in the inning with two outs and the bases loaded, but reliever Tyler Barnette induced a 4-6-3 double play ball from Herum to end it.

The inning, Visalia’s biggest of the homestand, staked the Rawhide and starter Trevor Simms to a 5-1 lead at the time, which was more than enough for Simms. The right-hander wasn’t dominant, and never retired the Storm in order, but he minimized the damage and worked out of a couple of tough jams to pitch a season high six innings. Simms (2-1) delivered his team-leading third quality start and, more importantly, gave the bullpen some much needed rest after no starting pitcher has lasted past the fourth in the last three games.

The Rawhide tacked on insurance runs in third and fifth innings, thanks to a sacrifice fly by Daniel Lockhart and an RBI single off the bat of Grant Heyman respectively. After the fifth, Visalia held a 7-2 lead.

Lake Elsinore (9-12) would tack on another pair of runs in the eighth off of Cameron Gann when Josh Naylor hit his second home run of the series to plate Michael Gettys, making it a 3-run game. Gann would retire the next two men before walking Javier Guerra.  With the tying run on deck, Rawhide Manager Shelley Ducan called upon Bud Jeter, who struck out Ruddy Giron, and locked down the game in ninth inning to earn his fifth save of the season, tying him for the league lead.

Visalia (11-10) totaled 13 hits in the game, and saw every player in the lineup reach base, with eight of them recording hits. Heyman and Byler led the way with three hits apiece, while Frank Christy added two. Former Major Leaguer Gregor Blanco slapped a 2-RBI single in the Rawhide second, going 1-4 in his first game of a  minor league assignment while he tries to earn his way back to a big league roster spot.

The Rawhide will hit the road to Modesto and return to action tomorrow evening and will send RHP Justin Donatella against Modesto’s Pablo Lopez. First pitch will be at 7:05 PM and the Rawhide’s live broadcast of the game will be available on rawhidebaseball.com and on the MiLB At Bat app.

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