STOCKTON. Calif. - The Stockton Ports have lived and died with the home run ball in 2013, and on Sunday night a pair of two-run homers wasn't enough to overcome the Visalia Rawhide. Visalia scored six runs over a three-inning span and seven runs total as they beat the Ports 7-4 at Banner Island Ballpark.
Visalia opened the scoring in the second inning on a two-out RBI double from Matt Helm. The Rawhide widened their lead in the third against Ports starter Tanner Peters (7-5). With two on and nobody out, David Nick singled to left-center to make it a 2-0 game. The throw from left field came home, and catcher Phil Pohl tried to cut the throw and send it back to third to throw out Gerson Montilla, but the throw went down the left field line and allowed Montilla to score. Two batters later, David Peralta singled to make it 4-0.
The Rawhide added two more runs in the fourth on an RBI single from Montilla and an RBI double from Jon Griffin that knocked Peters from the game. Peters suffered the loss after allowing six runs on 10 hits over 3.2 innings of work.
Rawhide starter Cody Wheeler (4-4) was perfect through four and-a-third innings before walking B.A. Vollmuth. Two batters later with two outs, Tony Thompson got Stockton's first hit, a two-run homer to right that made it a 6-2 game.
The two runs in the fifth were the only runs allowed by Wheeler who went on to earn the win, going six innings and allowing two runs on two hits while striking out eight.
The Rawhide added a run in the sixth off the Ports bullpen. Reliever Omar Duran walked Evan Marzilli to open the inning and after a one-out single, Duran was chased from the game and Visalia had runners at the corners with one out. Jonathan Joseph came in from the Ports bullpen and struck out Nick, but as he faced Griffin, he made an errant pick-off throw to first, enabling Marzilli to score to make it 7-2. The run as unearned and charged to Duran, who gave up one hit and struck out four over 1.2 innings. Joseph went on to pitch 2.2 scoreless innings of relief while striking out three.
Seth Simmons and Kaleb Fleck worked a scoreless seventh and eighth, respectively. R.J. Hively came on to work the ninth and with one on and one out, Vollmuth came up and hit a two-run homer to left-center that made it a 7-4 contest. Hively, however, would set down the next two batters to end the ballgame.
The Ports and Rawhide play the second game of their three-game series on Monday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Raul Alcantara (2-0, 3.09 ERA) will head to the bump for Stockton, opposed by Visalia right-hander Rob Coe (2-3, 6.75 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.