Grey goes perfect through 5.2, strikes out 11
By Vinnie Longo
LAKE ELSINORE – From his first pitch, Connor Grey appeared to be locked in. Through his last pitch, he stayed that way.
The righty dealt one of the most dominant performances by any Rawhide pitcher this year, starting his night by throwing 5.2 perfect innings and finishing with seven one-hit, shutout frames. Grey (W, 9-8) struck out 11 Storm hitters, falling one shy of his career-high mark, and fanned seven in a row between the fourth and sixth innings.
Lake Elsinore’s Chris Baker broke up Grey’s bid for the perfecto by doubling off the wall in right with two outs in the sixth. Grey came back to induce a groundout from Nate Easley and end the inning. Baker was the only hitter that reached for the Storm all night.
Grey retired the first 17 hitters he faced tonight, the most that any Rawhide pitcher has set down in succession this year. He also became the first Rawhide pitcher to limit the opposing team to one hit when throwing at least six innings.
The Visalia offense roared to life behind Grey, giving him a lead in the second that held for the full game. The Rawhide went ahead when Marcus Wilson hit a sacrifice fly to plate Pavin Smith. Then Anfernee Grier hit a bullet down the left field line that bounced past the diving Allen Córdoba. Grier screamed around the bases as the ball rolled to the wall and scored with an inside-the-park home run.
Five different hitters put up two-hit performances for Visalia (57-60/20-27) and eight different players had at least one hit. Hernandez drove home a pair and Wilson brought home three by adding on with a two-run single in the fourth.
The win gave the Rawhide a series victory against Lake Elsinore (57-60/23-24) and a win in the season series against the Storm. It’s the first road series win for Visalia since they took two games out of three in San Jose to close out the first half.
Lake Elsinore starter Ronald Bolanos (L, 5-8) set a career high by allowing nine runs, all earned, on nine hits over five innings. The Rawhide struck for an additional two runs against lefty Tyler Radke in the seventh.
Visalia has now thrown ten shutouts this year, moving them into a tie with Stockton for third in the California League. Only Inland Empire (13) and Rancho Cucamonga (12) have thrown more.
The Rawhide head home for a critical three-game series against Modesto starting tonight, Aug. 10. Visalia will send RHP Cole Stapler (0-3, 3.90) to the bump against Modesto RHP Reggie McClain (3-10, 5.33). First pitch is at 7 p.m. and tickets are available on rawhidebaseball.com.