LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. - It's been a rare occasion this season that the Stockton Ports have won a game when trailing after the sixth inning. On Wednesday night, however, Stockton found a way to win its second straight game despite having to come from behind. Trailing the Lake Elsinore Storm 4-1 going into the seventh inning, the Ports plated four runs in the frame and held the lead down the stretch to beat the Storm by a final of 5-4.
Lake Elsinore scored a pair of runs with two outs in the bottom of the first on three straight hits. Jace Peterson singled and stole second and scored on an RBI double by A.J. Kirby-Jones to give the Storm a 1-0 lead. Jeremy Baltz followed with an RBI single to center to score Kirby-Jones and make it a 2-0 game.
The Ports got their first run in the third off Storm starter Bryce Morrow. Dusty Robinson drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on an RBI single from Phil Pohl that made it a 2-1 game.
The Storm, after stranding five base runners over the first four innings, would knock Ports starter James Simmons out in the fourth. After back-to-back singles and a double steal started the inning, Kirby-Jones hit an RBI single to center to score Kyle Gadele to increase the Storm lead to 3-1. Baltz came up next and reached on a fielder's choice that brought another run home, increasing the Lake Elsinore lead to 4-1. Simmons went on to allow an infield single and then hit a batter with two outs, at which point he was lifted for Omar Duran (3-0), who struck out B.J. Guinn to escape a bases-loaded jam.
Simmons received a no-decision, going 4.2 innings and allowing four runs on a season-high 11 hits.
Beginning with the final out of the fifth, Duran and Pedro Viola (SV, 1) combined to retire 13 of the final 15 storm batters.
Morrow, meanwhile, had retired 12 batters in a row, taking him one out deep into the seventh inning. B.A. Vollmuth broke up the stretch with a single to left and Antonio Lamas followed with a double that put runners at second and third. Bruce Maxwell came up and hit a two-run double down the left field line that cut the Ports deficit to 4-3 and knocked Morrow from the game. Luis De La Cruz (5-5) came on and struck out Robinson for the second out, but then allowed an RBI double to Pohl that tied the game at 4-4. Myrio Richard followed with an RBI single to left on which Pohl crossed home plate with the go-ahead run to make it a 5-4 game.
Morrow received a no-decision after allowing four runs on six hits over 6.1 innings. De La Cruz took the loss as he allowed the go-ahead run to score in the seventh. De La Cruz was lifted for Cody Hebner with the bases loaded in the seventh, and Hebner got Tony Thompson to ground back to the mound to end the inning.
Duran pitched 2.1 scoreless innings for Stockton and recorded three strikeouts as he picked up the win in the contest. Viola came on to start the eighth and tossed two scoreless innings, retiring six of the seven batters he faced, to earn his first save. Viola pitched around a two-out single hit by Travis Jankowski in the eighth as Jankowski wound up at third base after a steal and a passed ball. Viola closed out the game with back-to-back strikeouts of Kirby-Jones and Baltz.
The Ports will try for a sweep of the Storm on Thursday at The Diamond. Raul Alcantara (4-3, 3.71 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by Lake Elsinore right-hander James Needy (8-4, 3.66 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.