STOCKTON, Calif. -
There was plenty of excitement and drama to be had at Banner Island Ballpark on Independence Day, from game-changing hits to ejections to batting order complications. But the Stockton Ports finished with a bang before a sellout crowd of 5,570.
The Stockton Ports (37-44) came from behind and collected their third extra-innings victory of the season against the Modesto Nuts (42-39), 7-5, powered by Stephen Parker's powerful two-run, walk-off home run in the twelfth inning.
Todd Johnson gave the Ports their first lead of the game in the seventh inning with a bases clearing triple, but the Paul Smyth blew the lead with two out in the top of the ninth, as Modesto tied the game. The two teams tangoed until Parker slammed his tenth homer of the year to end the game at four hours and eight minutes. It was the longest extra-innings game the Ports have played this season.
Johnson finished the game 3x5 with three RBI, and Grant Green and Kent Walton both added a pair of hits in the contest. Parker finished the game with three RBI as well. Lance Sewell picked up the win, his third, in the game, and Jonnathan Aristil collected his third loss. Ports relievers Scott Hodsdon, Scott Deal, Brett Hunter and Lance Sewell combined for 5.0 shutout innings in the contest.
Modesto started scoring early, plating their first run in the first frame. Left fielder Scott Robinson doubled to right field to leadoff the game. He came around to score on an RBI single by shortstop Thomas Field.
The Nuts took a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Right fielder David Christensen slammed a solo home run to left field to lead off the inning. Second baseman Radames Nazario then hit the ball to shallow left-center field, and Ports outfielders Jermaine Mitchell and David Thomas both gave chase. They collided in left field, and the ball kept rolling toward the wall. Shortstop Green ran to field the ball, and Nazario kept running around the bases. He made it safely home for an inside-the-park home run. It was his first home run of the season.
Both Mitchell and Thomas were inspected by athletic trainers and remained in the field to complete the inning. Mitchell later exited the game in the top of the fourth inning, and Todd Johnson took his place. Following the two home runs, Ports starter Ben Hornbeck struck out the side.
Hornbeck struck out seven of 10 consecutive batters he faced between the second and fourth innings. He gave up an RBI single to Field in the fifth inning, as Modesto made it 4-0.
The Ports collected their first hit of the game from designated hitter Walton in the third inning. Sunday was his Ports debut following a promotion from Single-A Kane county, and he also collected and RBI in the contest.
The Ports posted their first run in the fifth inning, on a sacrifice fly by Walton. Stockton made it 4-2 in the sixth inning as Johnson scored on an RBI sacrifice fly by Parker.
Stockton pulled ahead 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh. Second baseman Tyler Ladendorf singled to start the inning. Thomas then grounded out. Walton collected his second single of the game to put two on with one out for catcher Ryan Ortiz. Ortiz walked to load the bases for Johnson. Johnson slammed a triple to right field, clearing all the bases. Parker later walked in the inning, but first baseman Mike Spina struck out to end the Ports threat.
Things got interesting in the top of the eighth inning. Hodsdon was on the mound to start the eighth, and he issued back-to-back walks to Field and pinch hitter Jimmy Cesario. The Ports then called on righty Scott Deal to face pinch hitter Ben Paulsen. Paulsen flew out to a diving Thomas, and his diving catch kept the runners from advancing. Then Christensen came up to bat. He hit the ball to third base, and Parker fielded the ball, aiming to get Cesario out at second.
Matt Benham, the bases umpire, called Cesario safe, to load the bases. Parker began to argue the call, and Ports manager Steve Scarsone also ran out of the dugout to argue the call. Green also argued the call and was ejected from the game. Infielder Brandon Pinckney came into the game to play second and Ladendorf moved to shortstop. With bases loaded, Nazario grounded into a double play to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth, Smyth took the hill for Stockton. He retired the first batter before giving up a single to Robinson. Center fielder Tim Wheeler then grounded out to Spina. With two out and one on, designated hitter Jordan Pacheco singled to left field to score Robinson and tie the game. Field then stepped up to the plate. During his at-bat, Field got in the way of an attempt to catch Pacheco stealing. Field was called out on batter's interference.
In the top of the tenth inning, Field returned to bat to leadoff, rather than Cesario, causing the Nuts to bat out of order. For the rest of the game, the Nuts followed their sequential lineup, but that play in the tenth gave the Ports an opportunity to protest the game because the Nuts batted out of the correct order.
Hunter kept the Nuts scoreless in the tenth and eleventh innings. The Ports managed to put a runner on in the tenth, but were unable to move him past first base. Sewell tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the twelth to maintain the 5-5 tie for the Ports.
In the bottom of the twelfth, Pinckney singled with one out to get things rolling. Parker then stepped up to the plate and launched a home run well over the Jackson Rancheria Back Porch in right field for the walk-off win. The Ports celebrated at home plate before clearing the field for the July 4 Fireworks Extravaganza.
The Stockton Ports will take on the Nuts for Game 2 of the three-game set on Monday at 7:05 p.m. LHP Paul Oseguera (2-3, 5.18) is slated to start for Stockton, while RHP Juan Nicasio (7-4, 3.39) will take the hill for Modesto.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.