STOCKTON, Calif. - The Visalia Rawhide entered Friday night's contest with the Stockton Ports the California League's hottest team, and by night's end they had their 13th win in their last 14 games. Visalia scored five runs in the eighth inning en route to a 6-3 win over the Ports in the opener of their four-game series at Banner Island Ballpark.
Stockton got off to a fast start as they plated two runs in the first inning on a Josh Whitaker two-run double with one out. Rawhide starter Kyle Winkler walked two batters in the first inning, but had just one walk over the last five innings of his outing.
Ports starter Deyvi Jimenez kept Visalia off the board and allowed just one hit over the first three innings. Jimenez, though, gave up back-to-back singles to start the fourth and walked Tom Belza to load the bases with nobody out. After recording back-to-back strikeouts of Kerry Jenkins and Chris McMurray, Raul Navarro coaxed a bases-loaded walk that put Visalia on the board at 2-1. Jimenez struck out Evan Marzilli to escape further trouble.
The Ports got the run back in the bottom of the fourth when, with two outs and the bases empty, Ryan Delgado homered to right to make it a 3-1 ballgame.
Delgado's home run was the last run allowed by Winkler, who retired the last seven batters he faced. Winkler received a no-decision, going six innings and allowing three runs on four hits while striking out five.
Jimenez allowed just the one run in the fourth and also received a no-decision, going five innings and allowing three hits while striking out five.
The score remained locked at 3-1 until the top of the eighth inning. With Jonathan Joseph (3-1) beginning his first inning of relief, Sean Jamieson led off with a single. Gerson Montilla followed with a grounder to third. Stockton's infield attempted to turn a 5-4-3 double-play, but Montilla was ruled safe on a bang-bang play at first. Yazy Arbelo drew a walk and two batters later, with two outs, Belza doubled to left to score Montilla and make it a 3-2 ballgame. After pinch-hitter Jake Lamb was intentionally walked to load the bases, McMurray came up and appeared to take a 1-2 pitch down the middle, but the plate umpire ruled a ball. McMurray would go on to draw a bases-loaded walk that tied the game, and Navarro came up next and hit a three-run triple to right-center that gave the Rawhide a 6-3 lead. Pedro Vidal was summoned from the Stockton bullpen to finish the inning as he came on and struck out Marzilli.
Joseph took the loss on the night, allowing five runs on three hits over two-thirds of an inning.
Kaleb Fleck (SV, 4) came on to pitch the ninth and try for the save and gave up a leadoff double to Tony Thompson. Two batters later, Myrio Richard singled to right to put runners at the corners with one out. Delgado came up next and bounced into a game-ending 6-4-3 double-play.
Diogenes Rosario (3-1), who tossed 1.1 scoreless innings of relief for Visalia, picked up the win on the night.
The Ports and Rawhide play the second game of their four-game series on Saturday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Tanner Peters (2-1, 7.30 ERA) will make the start for Stockton, opposed by Visalia left-hander Cody Wheeler (0-0, 0.00 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.