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05/23/2009 1:17 AM ET
Hornbeck stellar in debut, fans 12
Ports win 4-1 behind new southpaw starter
Ben Hornbeck struck out 12 batters in 6.0 innings.

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STOCKTON, Calif.-Ben Hornbeck headed into Friday night's game as one of the best pitchers in the Oakland organization, with a 4-0 record and a 1.24 ERA in seven games with Kane County.

In his debut with the Ports, Hornbeck proved that he could put up some impressive numbers in the California League as well as the Midwest League. He struck out an individual and team season-high 12 batters in 6.0 innings, and held the Visalia Rawhide to just one hit and one walk in the game. He struck out the side in two consecutive innings, and fanned eight of his last nine batters he faced.

The Ports (16-26) jumped to an early 3-0 lead, and cruised to a 4-1 victory behind Hornbeck and the solid performance by the Stockton bullpen. Stockton did strand 11 batters in the contest, and batted .231 (3x13) with runners in scoring position. Visalia (26-16) ended the game with just four hits, and left only four batters on base.

The Ports pushed their first two runs across in the second inning. Visalia starter Bryan Shaw walked Matt Smith and Larry Cobb to lead off the inning. Shortstop Michael Richard then reached on a fielder's choice, which put out Cobb at second and allowed Smith to advance to third. With runners on the corners, center fielder David Thomas stepped up to the plate.

During Thomas' at-bat, Richard attempted to steal, and Visalia worked to put him out in a run down. Smith started to charge for home, and Visalia turned to try to get him out at home. Smith successfully stole home, and Richard took second base during the play. Both runners were credited with a stolen base. Thomas then notched a single to score Richard.

With two out in the third inning, the Ports collected three consecutive hits and took a 3-0 lead. Padron scored the third run of the game on an RBI single by Cobb.

Stockton added its final run in the sixth inning. Cobb led off the inning with a towering solo shot, which went a mile high and dropped in the first row of seats in the Black Oak Casino Bullpen BBQ section in right-center field. Cobb finished the game 2x3 with two RBI.

The Ports didn't get another hit after Cobb's home run, but did walk three times, leaving all three runners stranded.

Reliever Lance Sewell took control for the Ports in the seventh inning. He tossed two innings and allowed the lone Rawhide run-a solo home run by Kyle Greene-while striking out one. Right-handed pitcher Justin Friend closed the game for the Ports, and collected his first save of the season.

The Ports will take on the Rawhide for Game 2 of the four-game series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday. RHP Craig Italiano (3-3, 4.91) will face off against RHP Trevor Harden (0-2, 4.38).