SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - The Stockton Ports got off to a fast start on Friday night, but the Inland Empire 66ers had a faster and more potent retaliation. Stockton scored three runs in the top of the first but Inland Empire scored four in the bottom half and never relinquished the lead as they took the second game of their three-game set with the Ports by a final of 10-5.
Billy McKinney opened the contest with a homer to right off 66ers starter Nate Smith (2-2). After back-to-back singles by Daniel Robertson and Bruce Maxwell put runners at the corners, Renato Nunez hit a sac-fly to left to make it a 2-0 lead. With two outs in the inning, Matt Olson hit a bouncer to first that got past Wade Hinkle, an error that led to another run for Stockton.
Inland Empire answered back with a bigger inning in the bottom of the first. Ports starter Josh Bowman (0-2) issued back-to-back walks to Sherman Johnson and Jose Rondon. Cal Towey came up next and lined an RBI single to right-center to score Johnson and put Rondon at third. After an RBI groundout by Brian Hernandez made it 3-2, Hinkle came up and tied the game with an RBI single to left. Two batters later, Rolando Gomez grounded out to second to drive in a fourth run and give the 66ers a one run advantage.
The 66ers increased their lead in the third on a solo homer by Hernandez out to left that made it a 5-3 game.
The Ports pulled to within a run in the top of the fifth. Maxwell led off with a single and scored two batters later on an RBI triple to center by Chad Pinder that cut the Stockton deficit to 5-4. With Pinder at third and only one out, Smith got back-to-back strikeouts of Dusty Robinson and Olson to avoid further damage.
Smith went on to receive the win, going five innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits while striking out five.
Bowman came out to start the fifth and walked Johnson to begin the frame. Johnson then stole second and scored on an ensuing single by Rondon to make it 6-4 and knock Bowman from the game. Omar Duran entered from the bullpen and struck out Towey, but then walked Hernandez to put two aboard. Alex Albritton came up next and hit a ground ball to second that got through Pinder, an error that allowed Rondon to score and Hernandez to reach third. Albritton then attempted a steal of second and was thrown out for the second out of the inning, but Hernandez scored from third on the throw down to second to make it an 8-4 game.
Bowman suffered the loss, going four-plus innings and allowing seven runs on five hits while walking three and striking out one. Duran would pitch two innings and allow an unearned run while not allowing a hit as he struck out four.
Stockton's final run came in the seventh as Robertson doubled to open the inning and scored two batters later on an RBI groundout by Nunez to make it 8-5. It was the lone run allowed by 66ers reliever Daniel Reynolds who went three innings and allowed one hit while striking out two.
The 66ers added two more runs in the seventh off Ports reliever Kris Hall. Hall walked Johnson to start the inning and then gave up an RBI double to Rondon that made it 9-5. Rondon would go on to advance to third on a Hall throwing error on a pick-off attempt at second and score on a wild pitch to make it 10-5.
The Ports will try and salvage the finale of their three-game set with the 66ers on Saturday night at San Manuel Stadium. Tim Atherton (1-0, 4.80 ERA) will make the start for Stockton, opposed by Inland Empire right-hander Kyle McGowin (1-0, 1.06 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.