Bakersfield Blaze

Friday, Apr 06 2012 11:03 PM

Loss of control for Blaze in 9-3 setback to Visalia

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    Bakersfield's starting pitcher Chad Rogers delivers a pitch to home plate against Visalia's Keon Broxton during the first inning of the Blaze's home game on Friday night.

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    Bakersfield's Donald Lutz takes a swing at a Visalia pitch during the first inning of the Blaze's home game on a cold Friday night.

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    Bakersfield's Travis Mattair tries to put the tag on Visalia's Carter Bell during the second inning of the Rawhide's game against the Blaze on Friday night.

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BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian

The Bakersfield Blaze faced an uphill battle against Visalia starting pitcher Andrew Chafin on Friday night.

One that became impossible for the Blaze to win after a plethora of early self-inflicted wounds.

A pair of Bakersfield pitchers issued six walks and unleashed three wild pitches while the Blaze defense committed three errors and was charged with two passed balls during the first six innings against the Rawhide.

It all helped Visalia jump out to a big lead en route to a 9-3 victory over the Blaze in front of 943 at Sam Lynn Ballpark.

"We weren't playing too well tonight," Blaze manager Ken Griffey Sr. said.

"We made four errors and we just got off to a bad start. Pitching wasn't as good as I anticipated but it's one of those nights."

Chafin gave up one earned run on two hits and two walks while striking out nine to earn the win.

Bakersfield (1-1) led briefly after scoring one run in the second inning. The Blaze loaded the bases with no outs before Chafin fanned Taylor Barnhart and then got Kurtis Muller and Billy Hamilton to ground out.

David Vidal, who led off the inning with single up the middle and then advanced to third on walks by Travis Mattair and Devin Lohman, managed to scamper home on Muller's grounder.

Vidal had two of Bakersfield's four hits and had the Blaze's only extra-base hit, a two-run home run in the ninth.

The Blaze lineup struggled to just make contact against a quartet of Visalia pitchers, striking out 15 times.

"It's only the second game of the season so we got plenty of games to play and I'm not even going to worry about that right now," Griffey said when asked if he was disappointed in his team's performance after playing so well during its opener on Thursday.

Blaze starting pitcher Chad Rogers lasted only 22⁄3 innings despite not allowing any earned runs.

Rogers didn't allow a hit until the third inning. In the second he walked two but got out of a runners on first and third jam unscathed by inducing Ray Gomez to hit a two-out grounder that Lohman handled cleanly from his second base position.

The 22-year old right-hander wasn't able to escape trouble the following inning as Hamilton's two-out throwing error from deep in the hole at shortstop allowed the Rawhide to score two runs.

One batter after Hamilton's miscue, Visalia extended its lead to 3-1 on Bobby Borchering's double to left. That led to Rogers' removal from the game but it didn't end the Visalia rally as Yazy Arbelo immediately greeted Blaze reliever John Holdzkom with a RBI double down the right field line.

Leading 4-1, the Rawhide tacked on two more runs in fourth and then another in the six. Two of the three runs were unearned.

Overall only three of Visalia's runs were earned.

Jon Griffin was responsible for two of them with a ninth-inning blast over the leftfield wall that capped off the Visalia scoring.

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