VISALIA, Calif. - After erasing a 5-0 deficit when down to their last out, the Stockton Ports committed a fatal mistake that cost them the ballgame on Tuesday night at Recreation Ballpark. Ports reliever Seth Frankoff committed a throwing error to first base that allowed the winning run to score for the Visalia Rawhide as they walked off with a 6-5 win over Stockton, evening the three-game series at one game apiece.
Visalia surged to a 5-0 lead over the first three innings. Ports starter Tanner Peters gave up a leadoff home run to Adam Eaton in the first inning. The Rawhide scored two runs in the second on RBI singles from Evan Marzilli and Eaton to make it a 3-0 lead. In the third, with two outs and the bases empty, Peters walked Tom Belza and then gave up a two-run homer to David Nick, his second home run in as many nights, to make it a 5-0 Visalia advantage.
After Nick's home run, Ports pitching combined to retire 16 batters in a row. Peters set down the final seven batters he faced and would go on to receive a no-decision, going five innings and allowing five runs on six hits while striking out two.
Visalia starter Cody Wheeler issued four walks and hit two batters over the first four innings of his outing, but Wheeler struck out eight batters in that span and kept Stockton out of the run column.
Stockton struck big in the fifth inning. With two aboard and one out, Antonio Lamas hit a two-run homer off Wheeler to cut the deficit to 5-3 and knock Wheeler from the contest.
Wheeler would receive a no-decision, going 4.1 innings and allowing three runs on three hits while matching a season-high with nine strikeouts.
Matt Sample and Seth Simmons would combine to retire eight in a row in relief of Wheeler. The stretch ended in the eighth inning when Lamas greeted Kaleb Fleck with a leadoff home run to pull the Ports to within a run at 5-4.
R.J. Hively (1-0) came on to try for the save in the ninth and gave up a one-out single to Addison Russell. Max Muncy followed with a single to right to put runners at the corners with one out. After B.A. Vollmuth struck out, Hively uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Russell to score from third and tie the game at 5-5. It was Hively's first blown save of the season.
Stockton's pitching staff of Peters, Ryan Dull and Jonathan Joseph (5-4) had combined to retire 16 straight batters going into the bottom of the ninth. Joseph, however, issued a leadoff walk to Belza to open the ninth. Frankoff was brought in from the bullpen at that point and walked Nick to put runners at first and second. Sean Jamieson came up next and laid down a sacrifice bunt to the left side of the infield. Frankoff fielded the bunt, looked briefly towards third base, and then threw a bouncer to first that skipped past Muncy and into foul territory, allowing Belza to score the game winning run.
Joseph, who issued the walk to Belza to start the ninth, was charged with his fourth loss of the season.
Lamas went 2-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI for the Ports.
Stockton and Visalia will wrap up their three-game series on Wednesday at Recreation Ballpark. Raul Alcantara (2-0, 2.61 ERA) will head to the mound for the Ports, opposed by Rawhide right-hander Rob Coe (1-3, 6.87 ERA). First pitch is set for 7 p.m. PDT.