For a frightening moment, Rick Magnante's team had more questions than answers. By the time Saturday night came to a close, the Stockon Ports' mettle had been tested and resiliency proven.
After A's No. 20 prospect Dylan Covey was hit in the face with a line drive and left for the hospital, three relievers finish off his shutout as Class A Advanced Stockton edged Rancho Cucamonga, 1-0, at Banner Island Ballpark.
Covey had allowed one hit -- a bloop single by Dodgers No. 9 prospect Cody Bellinger in the top of the first -- and was in the midst of retiring the side in order in the fourth when his night came to an early and scary end. Rancho Cucamonga's Jacob Scavuzzo hit a liner back to the mound that struck Covey, who collapsed to the ground.
"He has a laceration under his chin," said Magnante, Stockton's manager. "He went to the hospital to get sutures and X-rays. Our head of medical actually was here -- Jeff Collins -- because our normal trainer [Travis Tims] is on vacation right now. From his assessment after the injury, there was no concussions symptoms. They were going to take X-rays at the hospital, but I don't have results of those."
The incident forced a difficult pause in what had looked like a gem in the making.
"Certainly, it was a harrowing experience because he went down and we didn't really see what had happened," Magnante said. "It was kind of camouflaged, so to speak. When we got him up, we saw there was some bleeding, but he seemed to be OK, never lost consciousness.
"Injuries do occur. People run into walls, slide into bases, get hit by pitches. It is a dangerous game. Flying objects and struck objects, anything can happen. I do think they were able to come together, stay in the moment, and I think they were somewhat reassured when Dylan was able to walk off the field under his own power."
Covey moved off slowly before heading to the hospital. He provided an update on his condition late Saturday night on Twitter.
Ports radio voice Zack Bayrouty also tweeted Saturday night that Covey had passed concussion tests. Magnante took stock of the unfortunate circumstances under which his team had to continue.
"It was a heartfelt moment," he said. "Everybody was hoping that whatever the injury was, it would not be serious. I'm sure there was some trepidation and concern from everybody, but when he was able to get to his feet and walk off under his own power, that created an immediate sense of relief."
With a scoreless game at hand, the Ports set about completing what Covey started. Sam Bragg set the tone with three perfect innings in relief of the 23-year-old right-hander and Ben Bracewell (6-2) struck out two in a perfect eighth. With the bullpen holding the line, Stockton's hitters needed to break through.
Facing Quakes starter Chase De Jong, that seemed easier said than done. With seven shutout innings to begin his Saturday, the Dodgers' No. 19 prospect had allowed one run over his last 23 innings before Stockton got to him in the eighth.
"We scratched for it, that was for sure," Magnante said. "When you look at the scoreboard coming into the [eighth] inning and we've combined for a one-hitter, you say, 'Where's the justice in the game if we can't get a win when our guys are throwing a one-hitter?'"
Brett Vertigan led off with a single to right and raced to third on a single to right by A's No. 13 prospect Yairo Munoz. One batter later, Vertigan came home on a groundout by No. 8 prospect Jacob Nottingham.
"Fortunately enough for us, [Munoz's hit] was soft," Magnante said. "It found a seam and Vertigan got a good read and saw that it was going to be down."
The win pulled the Ports back to .500 at 56-56 after dropping five of their previous six games.
"I was proud of our guys tonight," Magnante said. "I've been proud of them all year, actually. We've had a little bit of an up-and-down season, but we're resilient and trust in each other. We compete every night. That didn't change tonight. They are professional athletes, albeit young, and the game does go on. They stepped up and did what they needed to do."
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.