STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Ports hit three home runs that accounted for five of their six runs on Opening Night at Banner Island Ballpark on Thursday night. The Ports defeated the Bakersfield Blaze by a final of 6-2 before a crowd of 4,189.
Stockton didn't waste any time getting on the scoreboard as Josh Whitaker hit a towering two-run homer in the first off Blaze starter Tanner Robles (0-1) that gave the Ports a 2-0 lead.
Dusty Robinson came up in the last of the second with one on and nobody out and took Robles deep down the left field line, another two-run shot that gave Stockton a 4-0 cushion.
Robles took the loss after going three innings and allowing four runs on four hits while walking three and striking out five.
Ports starter Drew Granier (1-0) kept Bakersfield off the board through the first two innings. In the third, however, the Blaze got a leadoff single from Juan Perez and a double from Ryan Wright that put two on with nobody out. Two batters later, Yorman Rodriguez doubled to the wall in left to score both Perez and Wright and cut the Ports lead to 4-2. Granier, however, would get Dominic D'Anna to strike out and Juan Duran to fly to right to escape further trouble.
Granier would go on to earn the win in his California League debut, going five strong innings and allowing two runs on four hits while striking out six.
The Ports offense added two more runs off Blaze reliever Pat Doyle. Wade Kirkland led off the fourth with a double to left, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Bobby Crocker groundout to short to make it 5-2. In the fifth, Max Muncy hit a solo home run to right to make it a 6-2 advantage.
Doyle went two innings and allowed two runs on two hits while striking out four.
Stockton's bullpen held strong down the stretch as Pedro Vidal tossed two perfect innings in relief and Jose Macias closed out the game with two scoreless frames.
The Ports and Blaze will continue their four-game set on Friday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Blake Hassebrock (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will take the hill for Stockton, opposed by Blaze right-hander Carlos Contreras. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.