The Chico Heat caught fire Wednesday, hitting six home runs to beat the Klamath Falls Gems, 17-4.
Of the six homers, three came from the bat of Cole Lemmel.
The University of California junior was responsible for seven RBI, including two warning-track doubles.
The Heat started hot, using three hits — including a two-run bomb from Lemmel — to score four runs in the first frame.
In the bottom of the inning, Klamath Falls’ Kyle Yamada led off with a single.
Kai Fong, who signed with the Gems hours before Wednesday’s game, joined Yamada on base after a Chico error.
Brice Foster moved both teammates into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt, and then Travis Danielson drove in Yamada for the first Klamath run of the game.
An error on an attempted pick-off at first base scored Fong, but the Gems struck out twice in a row to close the inning down, 4-2.
Brooks Juhasz pitched three consecutive outs in the second inning for the Gems, but their offense couldn’t help him out, keeping the score the same.
Both teams went scoreless in the third.
In the fourth, Chico had a runner on third, but Gems shortstop Brice Foster made a skillful play to blank the Heat once again.
Mike Hicks walked to open the bottom of the fourth and Yamada did the rest, pounding an RBI double to left field.
The Gems left two on to close the frame, 4-3.
Klamath Falls catcher Easton Waterman evened the score in the fifth, crushing an RBI double to the left field fence.
It was anyone’s game.
But in the sixth, that changed, as Chico hit back-to-back home runs to gain a, 6-4 lead.
“It was competitive for the first six innings, and then it got away from us,” Yamada said. “The long ball really worked for them tonight, so it was tough.”
The Heat blanked the Gems in the bottom of the frame, and in the seventh, Lemmel hit his last home run of the game, obliterating an off-speed pitch to put the Heat up, 9-4.
The Heat’s Jordan Parker, a University of Arizona outfielder, capped scoring for the inning with a three-run shot over the right field fence.
The Heat added five more runs in the final inning, including another home run to coast to victory.
Lemmel had two home runs in the series opener, which puts his two-game series total at five home runs.
Though it was a blowout, it didn’t feel like one.
The Gems went blow-for-blow with the Heat through six innings but unraveled in the last three.
“It’s one game,” Yamada said. “There are a lot more games left, so we’re going to flush it, and come back tomorrow and try and take one from the series.”
The Gems close the series at 1:35 p.m. today at Kiger Stadium.