The Bakersfield Blaze stranded nine baserunners, but scored two, and the bullpen worked 4.1 scoreless innings to preserve a narrow lead, sending the Blaze to a 2-1 win over the Inland Empire 66ers on Thursday night in San Bernardino, and salvaging one of three in the series.
The two clubs traded zeroes in the first two innings before the Sixers got on the board in the 3rd.
Jacob Johnson, continuing his second half improvement, allowed a single and a walk to the bottom of the Inland lineup with one out, and after a grounder moved the runners along, a wild pitch brought in Andy Workman with the game's first tally.
The Blaze caught the Sixers in the 5th thanks to the surging Juan Silva. Juan Perez singled to right with one out off recently reactivated Kramer Sneed (L, 7-2) and stole his second bag of the night (and 27th on the year); Silva, two batters later, doubled to right to score him, reaching for his seventh consecutive plate appearance in the process.
A night of near-big innings on both sides continued in the 6th, as the Blaze got on top, but stranded the bases loaded for a second time. Steve Selsky doubled to begin the frame, and Juan Duran and Kyle Waldrop each followed with singles to score Selsky. By the end of the inning, however, the Blaze had already left eight runners on base.
Kyle McMyne (W, 3-4) came on for Bakersfield midway through the 5th inning, and was outstanding, working the club out of an inherited bases-loaded situation while going 2.1 scoreless innings of relief and preserving the narrow 2-1 edge into the 8th.
With the Blaze bats going quiet against the Inland Empire pen, Pat Doyle (S, 10) was called upon for the six out save, and the extremely reliable righthander did his job, allowing just one baserunner over the final two innings.
The Bakersfield Blaze now head home for the final homestand of the 2013 California League regular season, which runs from Friday, August 23rd through Thursday, the 29th.
The San Jose Giants and Stockton Ports will be at Sam Lynn Ballpark for that homestand, with San Jose in town from Friday through Monday, and Stockton finishing up the stretch.
The set begins with Fireworks Friday, a 7:15pm start time against the Giants - the Blaze will send veteran lefty Fabian Williamson to the hill, and the Giants counter with highly touted prospect Kyle Crick, a former 1st round selection by San Francisco. Gates open at 6:15pm, and a large crowd is expected on hand.
Can't make it out? Listen live to the Friday night Blaze Game of the Week on SmartTalk AM-1230 locally, or online at BakersfieldBlaze.com, as Dan Besbris brings the call from first moment to last. The Blaze pregame show begins at 7:05pm - don't miss it!