Rawhide returns to field, welcomes back fans

Fans finally get a chance to cheer on the Visalia Rawhide at the newly named Valley Strong Ballpark

VISALIA – A lot has changed since the Visalia Rawhide last took the field in front of their home fans on September 14, 2019. The ballpark has a new name, the team is under new ownership and there is now a “dress code” to enter as all spectators are required to wear masks. Through it all, the opening day excitement was felt throughout Valley Strong Ballpark amongst fans of all ages as the Rawhide opened their season last week against the Lake Elsinore Storm.

It was a full circle moment as the same two teams met in the California League Championship before last year’s canceled season. The Rawhide is fielding an entirely new roster that is still learning to mesh. They narrowly avoided the series sweep by pulling out the narrow 5-4 win in the last game of the six-game series on Sunday.

Fans off all ages were in the stands for the first time since the team’s California League Championship game over a year and a half ago. Jermaine Johnson II

Rawhide were bent on not getting swept in their first season series as they came out to an early 4-0 lead after the first inning. It was a much needed lead as it was primarily a defensive game from that point on. Lake Elsinore scored a run in the fourth but the game was otherwise scoreless until the seventh inning. Both teams brought home one runner and the Storm brought home two more in the eighth. Those were the game’s final two runs as the Rawhide closed it out for their first win of the season. Liam Norris, who made his professional debut with the Rawhide, was relieved by Harrison Francis who earned his first win.

The series was close as five of the six games were decided by two runs or less. Both teams gave fans an exciting game on opening day as the lead changed four times throughout the night. Sheng-Ping Chen hit a 2-RBI double in his first professional at bat in the bottom of the first inning to give the Rawhide the 2-0 lead. The lead kept going back and forth until the eighth inning when Matthew Acosta of Lake Elsinore hit the fourth home run of the game to give his team the 8-7 lead which they held on to.

The Rawhide are now 1-5 on the season and their next series is in Fresno against the Grizzlies which began yesterday at 6:50 p.m. after press time. The two teams will play a six-game series which will end on Sunday.

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