The Bakersfield Blaze began a stretch of 11 home games in 14 nights with a solid win, slugging three homers and holding off the powerful Stockton Ports en route to a 6-2 victory, and in the process, moved back into sole possession of first place in the California League North.
Looking for the team's first series-opening win since the first day of the season, the Blaze gave the ball to Wandy Peralta (W, 2-2), and the lefty delivered. Peralta struck out five over 5.0 innings, working into and out of jam after jam while allowing just a single run on a bases-loaded balk.
Marquez Smith provided the offense. After an infield single and walk in the 1st, Smith blasted a majestic three-run homer to left off Josh Bowman (L, 0-3).
Smith wasn't done, as the veteran smashed his second long ball of the night in the 7th off Nolan Sanburn, his second career multi-homer game.
After Peralta exited with a 5-1 lead thanks to a Kyle Waldrop solo shot, the bullpen delivered in a big way.
Journeyman Sean Black, making his second appearance for the Blaze, worked 2.2 innings, allowing just an unearned run and taking the contest into the 8th.
Carlos Gonzalez (S, 6) pitched the final 1.1 frames for his second four-out save in a week, and his sixth save of the year.
The other Blaze run scored in the 4th inning on a walk, a Juan Perez double, and a Jon Matthews sacrifice fly, as once again the Blaze offense contributed up and down the lineup.
The victory, combined with a Visalia loss, moves the Blaze back into first place in the North by themselves with a tremendous 18-7 early-season record, all against the Stockton Ports, San Jose Giants and Modesto Nuts.
The series with Stockton continues Tuesday through Thursday, as James Allen takes the hill for a Blaze team looking to make it four straight wins. The Ports will counter with Tim Atherton, who came five outs away from a perfect game in his last start. First pitch on ScholarShare Family Tuesday is scheduled for 7:15pm, with family fourpacks of tickets (tickets, hot dogs and a program) available for $20.
Can't make it? Listen to the action live on the net via BakersfieldBlaze.com or TuneIn Radio. Dan Besbris has the call - pregame show begins at 7:10pm.