STOCKTON, Calif. - For the second time in eight months, a Stockton Ports starting pitcher came a few outs away from tossing a perfect game at Banner Island Ballpark. Eight months after Tanner Peters came two outs away from accomplishing the feat in August, Tim Atherton (3-0) fell five outs shy on Thursday night versus the Lake Elsinore Storm. Atherton retired the first 22 batters he faced before allowing a double to Diego Goris in the eighth inning as he helped the Ports to a 5-1 victory and their first series win of the season.
The Ports opened the scoring in the second as Aaron Shipman drove in his first run of the season with a two-out RBI single off Storm starter Joe Ross (1-2) to give the Ports a 1-0 lead. It was widened to 2-0 in the third when Matt Olson hit a solo homer to left-center with two outs.
Ross, the Storm starter, suffered the loss after going five innings and allowing two runs on six hits while striking out five.
Meanwhile, Atherton struck out two in the first, two in the second, and one each in the fourth and fifth as he continued to set the side down in order.
After striking out Gabriel Quintana to begin the eighth, Goris came to bat and on a two-strike pitch lined a double over the head of Ports center fielder Billy McKinney to break up the perfect game bid. Luis Domoromo followed with an RBI single up the middle to score Goris and make it a 2-1 game, at which point Atherton was lifted.
Atherton went on to earn the victory, tossing 7.1 innings and allowing the one run on two hits while striking out nine.
Austin House (SV, 2) was summoned from the bullpen and, after walking Stephen Carman, got John Nester to hit into an inning-ending double-play to preserve the one-run advantage.
Stockton tacked on three runs in the eighth off Storm reliever Ben Paullus. Dusty Robinson led the inning off with a single and Ryon Healy followed with a two-run homer to right to make it a 4-1 lead. After Bobby Crocker reached on a bunt-single and stole second, Wade Kirkland brought him home with an RBI single to right to make it 5-1.
House struck out two batters as part of a scoreless ninth to pick up his second save in as many chances for Stockton.
The Ports, riding their longest win streak of the season, welcome the High Desert Mavericks to town on Friday to begin a three-game series. Hunter Adkins (0-0, 10.80 ERA) will make his first start of the season for Stockton. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.