Visalia improved to 6-0 in their inaugural season as the Rawhide by defeating the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 4-1 Tuesday night. Bryan Shaw, who had been a reliever throughout his tenure at Long Beach State, went a surprising five innings in his first pro start. He allowed just one run on five hits while striking out five and only walking one batter. Shaw was the sixth Visalia player to make a start, as Max Scherzer pitched opening day in a rehab assignment.
"Our coach was really good at keeping us in shape and keeping our arms healthy," Shaw told FutureBacks after being selected in the second round last year when asked about how he handled his heavy relief workload in 2007. He had no inkling then that he would be groomed as a starter by the Diamondbacks.
Left-hander Jordan Norberto pitched around three hits in the sixth and seventh innings, adding to his three scoreless frames from previous games. Jeff Dietz, who has shared closing duties with William Spottiswood in the first week, then allowed just one hit in a scoreless eighth and ninth innings to collect his third save in as many appearances. Dietz struck out two batters and did not allow a walk; the hit he allowed was his first in 4.2 innings this season.
On offense, top prospect Collin Cowgill was once again the big story. He went 2-for-4, which actually lowered his league-leading batting average to .526. He smacked a solo home run off Quakes starter Trevor Reckling in the first and added an RBI in the sixth to tie him with perpetual teammate Sean Coughlin for the league lead with eight. Cowgill even stole his second base of the season, though he did make a throwing error on defense.
"Whatever team I'm on or wherever I go, I just want to get there healthy and ready to get after it," Cowgill told FutureBacks just before the start of spring training.
Ed Easley, a supplemental round pick in 2007, made his second pro start start at third base, which allowed all three Rawhide catchers to start in the game. After striking out his first two at-bats, Easley reached on an error in the seventh and collected two RBI on a bloop bases-loaded single in the eighth. That was an important hit, as the rest of the team was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and it gave Dietz some breathing room in his closing effort."[Easley] comes to us being a third baseman from the past, and he played some first in Visalia as well, so that wasn't a huge change," minor league field coordinator Jack Howell told us after Easley took some hot corner grounders in the fall Instructional League.
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