It felt like deja vu all over again. Visalia went to the bottom of the ninth chasing one run and put the tying run on base, this time thanks to a two-out bloop single by Jason Morozowski that he dunked into right field. The Rawhide had put the tying run on base in eighth inning as well, but as had been the theme of this series, Visalia was unable to get hits with runners on or move runners along.
With Morozowski on in the ninth and two out, Marty Herum smoked a ground ball toward the five-hole, and it looked like the Rawhide would be able to extend the game and move the tying run into scoring position. But Brandon Montgomery took a quick step to his left, snared the hard hop and tossed to second to seal a 2-1 win for the Quakes.
Rancho Cucamonga (21-17) took one-run lead in the eighth inning in a bizarre sequence. Rawhide starter Justin Donatella (L, 0-6) retired Drew Jackson on a fly-out to start the frame and tie his career-high in innings pitched at seven and one-third. Then Omar Estevez blooped a double down the left field line, which ended Donatella’s day. He had allowed only one run to that point and the double was his second hit. Donatella had fanned eight batters and walked none, the latter of which he had not previously accomplished this season. Between the first and sixth innings, Donatella retired 13 consecutive Quakes hitters.
Mason McCullough was summoned from the bullpen and struck out Ibandel Isabel on three sliders, but then walked Ariel Sandoval. With Brandon Montgomery up, catcher Matt Jones suffered three passed balls, one of which brought Estavez home as the go-ahead run. McCullough struck out Erick Mejia to retire the side.
Rancho Cucamonga starter Mitchell White (W, 2-1) matched Donatella zero-for-zero on the scoreboard, taking a perfect game into the fourth inning before allowing an infield single to Sergio Alcantara. He then retired the next nine men he faced in order before Alcantara blooped a double into left field. Sandoval made a diving attempt at the ball, but it scooted under his glove and Alcantara wound up on second with a double. Two batters later, Marty Herum hit a booming double off the base of the wall in left center, mere feet away from giving the Rawhide their first lead. Alcantara came home to score and the Rawhide had tied the game up 1-1.
That was the only hit with a man on base that Visalia (19-19) managed today. White would depart after seven strong innings, allowing only three hits with eight strikeouts. Alex Hermeling (SV, 1) allowed the tying run to reach in each of his two innings, but stranded him both times and got the save. Isabel broke up Donatella’s no-hitter in the sixth with a laser of a solo home run to left, his league-leading 10th of the year.
The Rawhide will begin a three-game series against San Francisco affiliate San Jose tomorrow evening, with first pitch at 6 PM. Visalia will send right-hander Joel Payamps to the mound and the Giants will counter with the lefty Conner Menez. Tickets are still available at rawhidebaseball.com.