VISALIA, Calif. - They say it's not how you start but how you finish, and the Stockton Ports finished their series with the Visalia Rawhide strong on Thursday night. Trailing 2-1 in the eighth, the Ports scored five runs over the final two innings to beat the Rawhide by a count of 6-2 and earn a split of their four-game set.
Ports starter Josh Bowman set the side down in order in the first and opened the second by allowing an infield single to Brandon Drury. Three batters later with two outs, Brandon Jacobs hit a two-run homer to right that gave the Rawhide a 2-0 lead. Bowman would go on to retire the next 13 batters in a row following the Jacobs home run.
Stockton got a run back in the top of the third as Wade Kirkland homered off Rawhide starter Aaron Blair to cut the deficit to 2-1. It was the only run allowed by Blair who had an impressive California League debut but received a no-decision, going seven innings and allowing three hits while striking out nine.
Bowman, after setting down 13 in a row, gave up back-to-back singles to open the seventh inning that put runners at second and third. Bowman was lifted at that point for reliever Kris Hall (2-0), who opened his outing by striking out Rudy Flores. After issuing an intentional walk to load the bases, Hall struck out Jacobs for the second out and got Evan Marzilli to fly out to left field to preserve the 2-1 deficit.
Bowman would receive a no-decision, going six-plus innings and allowing two runs on four hits while striking out five. Hall would go on to strike out the side in the eighth and earn the win, going two scoreless innings and striking out five.
Seth Simmons (1-2) came on to pitch the eighth in relief of Blair. With one on and one out, Simmons gave up a two-run homer to Renato Nunez that put the Ports in front 3-2. Matt Olson followed with a homer to right that made it a 4-2 game.
Simmons suffered the loss, going two-thirds of an inning and allowing three runs on five hits.
The Ports added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth off Rawhide reliever Keith Hessler. With a runner at second and two out, Nunez blooped a single to right-center that scored Ryan Gorton. After Olson drew a walk, Ryon Healy lined an RBI single to right to score Nunez and make it a 6-2 game.
Austin House pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close out the game for Stockton.
After splitting a four-game series with the Rawhide, the Ports travel to Modesto to begin a three-game set with the Nuts. Matt Buschmann (0-0, 6.75 ERA) will make the start in the opener of the series for Stockton, opposed by Modesto right-hander Ben Alsup (0-3, 6.81 ERA). First pitch at John Thurman Field is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.