The Visalia Rawhide has stumbled on a formula for dominating the first month of California League play.
Even Modesto's two wins in the series prior to Saturday's 12-3 Rawhide win did little to diminish what the Rawhide has accomplished thus far in rolling to a 13-4 record.
The formula? First, stock the team with major league prospects -- something the parent Arizona Diamondbacks organization has seen fit to do. Then, put baseball royalty in the dugout.
Well, Visalia manager Mike Bell doesn't proclaim his royalty, despite being part of the three-generation major league baseball playing baseball family: grandfather Gus, father Buddy and brother David.
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But that lineage does mean Visalia's second-year manager has been around baseball his entire life, including his own one-season stint in the majors as a third baseman with Cincinnati in 2000.
It also means he recognizes good baseball when he sees it, and this year's Rawhide has been playing the game at a high level since opening night -- starting the season with 10 straight wins.
"I just like how we're doing it," Bell said. "It's fun to win, but we have a group of guys here who are really professional. All I have to do is write down the times of where they need to be and what they need to do, and they get it done. It makes it nice for me.'"
The Rawhide had its way Saturday in front of 4,281 fans -- the first sellout of the season at John Thurman Field. Modesto starter Connor Graham (2-1) struggled in his two innings, allowing two runs on two hits and four walks.
After Modesto reliever Austin Chambliss got the next 11 outs without allowing a hit, the Rawhide got three runs in the seventh on three hits and two more walks, then put away the win during a six-run eighth.
The Nuts did little against Visalia starter Wes Roemer (2-0,) who allowed a run on four hits in seven innings--the kind of start the Rawhide and Bell have been getting on a regular basis.
VanderBeek can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.