VISALIA, Calif. - The Visalia Rawhide scored six runs in the first inning and never looked back on Wednesday night at Recreation Ballpark. The Stockton Ports scored the final five runs of the ballgame, but ultimately couldn't overcome an early deficit as they dropped their fourth straight game by a final of 7-5.
With one out in the first inning, Visalia got back-to-back singles from Gerson Montilla and Tom Belza. After Ports starter Raul Alcantara (3-2) got Jon Griffin to fly out for the second out, the next six batters would reach base. David Peralta put Visalia on the board with a two-run double to right and after Sean Jamieson walked, Raul Navarro and Ronnie Freeman reached on back-to-back RBI singles to make it a 4-0 lead. Evan Marzilli came up next and reached on a fielding error committed by shortstop Wade Kirkland, allowing another run to score. Kevin Medrano followed and, batting for a second time in the inning, singled to right-center to increase the Rawhide lead to 6-0.
Visalia opened the second inning with back-to-back singles by Belza and Griffin that put runners at the corners with nobody out. Peralta came up next and hit into a double-play that brought another run in to make it 7-0.
Alcantara retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced to finish his outing, but went on to take his second straight loss, going five innings and allowing seven runs (five earned) on eight this while striking out two.
Rawhide starter Keith Hessler (7-6) had the Ports strand four base runners over the first three innings, but Stockton got on the board in the fourth. Tony Thompson led off with a double and Hessler issued back-to-back walks to Dusty Robinson and Rashun Dixon to load the bases. With one out, Wade Kirkland singled to left to bring in the Ports first run, and Bobby Crocker followed with a sac-fly to right that cut the Stockton deficit to 7-2.
Hessler earned the win after allowing two runs on six hits over five innings while walking three and striking out four.
Stockton's bullpen, a combination of Omar Duran and T.J. Walz, combined for three scoreless innings of relief for Alcantara.
After two scoreless innings of relief from Anthony Meo, Visalia turned the ball over to Seth Simmons in the eighth. Simmons, who gave up a three-run homer to Robinson on Tuesday night, gave up a leadoff homer to Robinson to start the eighth inning to make it a 7-3 ballgame.
Kaleb Fleck took over in a non-save spot for the Rawhide in the ninth. With one out, Fleck gave up a double to Josh Whitaker and a single to B.A. Vollmuth that put two aboard. Thompson came to the plate and delivered a double to right, his third double of the night, to drive in both runners and make it a 7-5 game. Robinson came up next as the possible-tying run and flew out to center. With two away, Fleck struck out Dixon to end the ballgame.
Thompson went 4-for-5 with three doubles, two RBI and a run scored for Stockton.
The Ports and Rawhide will wrap up their three-game series on Thursday night at Recreation Ballpark. Josh Bowman (3-3, 6.44 ERA) heads to the bump for Stockton, opposed by Visalia right-hander Eddie McKiernan (3-2, 3.90 ERA). First pitch is set for 7 p.m. PDT.