STOCKTON, Calif. - A night that started with four hits over the first two innings ended with just one hit over the last seven innings for the Stockton Ports. The Visalia Rawhide made it 14 wins in their last 15 games as they broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning and added a late run to beat the Ports by a count of 5-3 in front of 5,417 fans, the largest crow of the season at Banner Island Ballpark.
Visalia opened the scoring with a home run by Gerson Montilla in the first to take a 1-0 lead. The Ports were quick to tie in the bottom of the first. With Antonio Lamas at second and two outs, Josh Whitaker singled to right to make it a 1-1 contest.
The Ports grabbed their first lead in the second inning. Rawhide starter Cody Wheeler (1-0) walked Myrio Richard to open the frame. After recording back-to-back strikeouts, Wheeler walked Addison Russell and then allowed back-to-back RBI singles to Lamas and Max Muncy to make it a 3-1 Stockton lead.
The Rawhide countered with a pair of runs in the third off Ports starter Tanner Peters (2-2). With one out, Peters walked Sean Jamieson, gave up a single to Montilla, and then gave up an RBI double to Jake Lamb to make it 3-2. Yazy Arbelo followed with a sac-fly to right to tie the game at 3-3. Peters, beginning with that sac-fly, would retire the next nine batters in a row.
Wheeler went five innings for Visalia and earned the win in his California League debut, allowing three runs on four hits while walking a career-high six and striking out eight.
Peters pitched into the sixth for Stockton and with one out, gave up a single to left to Arbelo. Two batters later with two outs, Tom Belza walked and Matt Helm lined a single to left to give the Rawhide a 4-3 advantage and knock Peters from the game.
Peters suffered the loss after going 5.2 innings and allowing four runs on six hits while striking out five.
Seth Simmons set the side down in order in the sixth out of the bullpen for Visalia. Lamas led off the seventh with a base hit to center for Stockton, their first and only hit after the second inning on the night. Three batters later, Ryan Delgado drew a two-out walk to put runners at first and second. Simmons, though, got Dusty Robinson to pop out to short to end the threat.
Blake Cooper pitched around a throwing error by the third baseman Lamb that started the bottom of the eighth to keep Stockton off the scoreboard. The Rawhide plated an insurance run in the top of the ninth off Seth Frankoff, who took over after 2.1 perfect innings of relief from Jose Macias. Frankoff yielded a leadoff single to Belza. After a sacrifice bunt advanced him to second and a groundout advanced him to third, Frankoff threw a wild pitch on an 0-2 offering to Raul Navarro that allowed Belza to score and make it a 5-3 game.
Rawhide closer Jake Barrett (SV, 8) came on to pitch the ninth and recorded back-to-back strikeouts of Russell and Lamas to start the inning. Muncy followed and struck out, but reached on a wild pitch that went to the backstop, keeping the game alive. Whitaker came up next as the possible-tying run and hit a check-swing grounder back to the mound to end the ballgame. Barrett earned his eighth save of the season.
The Ports and Rawhide play the third game of their four-game series on Sunday afternoon at Banner Island Ballpark. Sergio Perez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) makes his California League debut for Stockton, opposed by Visalia left-hander Andrew Barbosa (3-1, 1.33 ERA). First pitch is set for 2:09 p.m. PDT.