It was a cool opening night for the Blaze in Bakersfield taking on the Visalia Oaks, however it had no effect on Billy Hamilton’s hot bat and Daniel Renken’s arm as the Blaze had a strong performance to ensure the 3-1 victory. Renken started off the game striking out the side and giving Blaze fans a great feeling for their team from the first half inning. Actually, it could not have started any better. In the bottom half of the first frame, Blaze fans were anticipating seeing the speed we had heard of as Billy Hamilton walked to start off the inning, but Bryson Smith grounded out into a double play to eliminate the threat.
The game went rather smoothly until the Oaks scored in the top of the third, but the Blaze quickly answered with Hamilton’s 2 run shot to left field to put them back in front. After that, Renken went into a zone allowing the one run on 5 scattered hits and K’ing 5. Daniel Wolford and Wilkin De La Rosa both gave strong performances out of the pen and Brian Pearl came in to close out the game by striking out 2 and recording the save. On the offensive side, the Blaze made the most of their 4 hits by bringing in 3 runs, one of which was a late insurance run thanks to the showcased speed of Hamilton as he did obtain his first stolen base of the season.
It was a great beginning to the season and Griffey Sr had to have been pleased with the jump out of the gate his pitching staff gave him. Keep in mind that pitchers report earlier to spring training allowing them to have a little more practise in early in the season so I dont think hitting will be an issue for the Blaze. It was a great start, so now all they need to do is follow that up with another solid performance in order to compliment fireworks friday. Go Blaze!