Stockton and Inland Empire exchanged blows early in the game. Todd Johnson led off the second with a single and subsequently stole second. Four batters later, Michael Richard delivered a two-out RBI double, scoring Johnson from second and giving the Ports a 1-0 lead.
The run was the only one allowed by 66ers starter Steve Johnson who had a strong effort on the afternoon. Johnson went five innings, allowing just the one run on seven hits while striking out seven and walking four.
Inland Empire wasted no time in knotting the score in the bottom of the second. Steven Caseres led off the frame with a triple to right. After back-to-back strikeouts, Ports starter Scott Hodsdon yielded an RBI single to Alex Garabedian, tying the ballgame at a run apiece.
Hodsdon, for five innings, would match Johnson pitch-for-pitch. Hodsdon gave up just the one run through his first five innings while racking up six strikeouts. In the bottom of the sixth, however, the Ports would suffer a defensive blunder that looked like it might cost them the ballgame. With Hodsdon still on the hill, Adolfo Gonzalez was hit by a pitch to start the frame. Two batters later with one out and Gonzalez at second, Scott Van Slyke knocked an RBI single to left-center, scoring Gonzalez and tying the ballgame. Hodsdon would be lifted for Nick Walters, who would struggle in his brief outing. Walters hit Caseres with his first pitch, then uncorked a wild pitch to put runners at second and third. After falling behind in the count 3-1 to Pedro Baez, Walters issued ball four intentionally, loading the bases with one down.
Justin Friend was then summoned from the bullpen to clean up the mess, and for a moment, it looked like he'd do just that. Friend got Justin Fuller to hit a pop up back of third base. Third baseman Christian Vitters and shortstop Frank Martinez both went after the ball, but it grazed off Vitters' glove and fell to the field, allowing Van Slyke to score from third and giving Inland Empire their first lead of the game at 3-2. Friend, however, would bounce back, striking out Garabedian and getting Christian Lara to fly out to end the inning.
The two runs that scored in the inning were charged to Hodsdon, the second one being unearned. Hodsdon would receive a no-decision, going 5.1 innings and allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits while striking out a season-high six and walking one.
For the early part of the game, the story offensively for Stockton was missed opportunities. The Ports loaded the bases and failed to score in the fourth. Stockton got back-to-back singles to start the seventh, but failed to score as Vitters bounced into a double-play.
In the eighth, however, the Ports had the inning they'd been wanting all afternoon. After two quick outs recorded by Greg Miller (0-1), the 66ers bullpen came undone.
Padron and Martinez would knock back-to-back singles, and Richard would be hit in the foot with a pitch, loading the bases with two down. Justin Orenduff, who'd recorded the save on Wednesday night, came on from the bullpen for Inland Empire. Orenduff would walk David Thomas to bring in the tying run, then surrendered a bases-clearing triple to Mitchell down the right field line, scoring three runs and giving Stockton a 6-3 advantage.
Miller, who was charged with three of the four runs in the inning, would be given the loss after two-thirds of an inning.
Chad Kerfoot (2-1) would be the beneficiary of Stockton's big eighth inning. Kerfoot pitched a scoreless seventh and would be credited with the win.
Jon Hunton (SV, 6) pitched two scoreless frames to earn his sixth save in as many chances. Hunton struck out three and gave up two hits in two innings of work.
The series win for the Ports is their second in a row. Stockton got their first series win over the weekend against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes at Banner Island Ballpark.
After taking two of three from the 66ers, the Ports will travel to High Desert on Friday for a four-game set and their first meeting of the season with the High Desert Mavericks. Mathieu LeBlanc Poirier (0-0, 2.16 ERA) will get the nod for the Ports, opposed by right-hander Alfredo Venegas (1-1, 6.00 ERA) for the Mavericks. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.