SAN JOSE, Calif. -
On Sunday night, the Stockton Ports were hoping to exercise their demons from Opening Weekend 2009. In their first series of the year against the San Jose Giants, the Ports scored just one run over four games and were swept, the first leg of what would become an 0-8 start to the season. Perhaps it will take more than one game, but on Sunday night the Boys from Banner Island took their first game of the year at Municipal Stadium, and the first of a four game series with the Giants by a count of 9-6. The win improved the Ports to 3-2 on their current eight-game road trip.
Ports starter Mathieu Leblanc Poirier had only a few mistakes on Sunday night. His first wound up costing him the game's first run. With two strikes on cleanup hitter Buster Posey at the start of the second inning, Poirier hit Posey in the leg, putting him aboard to start the frame. Angel Villalona came up next and bounced a double into the left field corner, scoring Posey from first and putting the Giants up 1-0.
Stockton tied the score in the top of the fourth. Jermaine Mitchell led off with a triple to left-center off Giants starter Clayton Tanner. He scored on an ensuing sac-fly from Yusuf Carter to knot the score at one.
Poirier had allowed just the one run in four solid innings of work, but would make one more mistake in the bottom of the fifth-his final frame. With one out, Brian Bocock hit his first home run of the season to give the Giants the lead back at 2-1. The home run was just Bocock's sixth professional home run since being drafted in 2006.
In the top of the sixth, the Ports would come through with their biggest inning of the night. Trailing 2-1, David Thomas led off with a double. Michael Richard followed by laying down a sac-bunt up the third base line. Third baseman Connor Gillaspie charged the ball and threw to first, but the throw got away from Villalona, allowing Thomas to come around with the tying run. Mitchell came up next and worked a walk, putting two on with nobody out. Tanner bounced back and got the next two outs, but then walked Matt Smith to load the bases. With the sacks full, Shane Keough stepped up and picked an opportune time to hit his first home run of the season-a grand slam over the fence in left to put the Ports on top 6-2. Tanner would finish the sixth, but go no further in the ballgame. He allowed six runs, only two of which were earned, on five hits while striking out seven.
Poirier's final frame was the fifth, and because of Stockton's five-run sixth, he had a chance to pick up his first win of the season. He wound up with a no-decision at night's end but pitched very well, going five innings and allowing two runs on four hits while striking out four.
The Ports' league-worst defense would rear its head in the bottom of the seventh. With Derrick Gordon on the hill, Darren Ford worked a one-out walk and Bocock followed with a single to center. After getting the second out, Gordon had Thomas Neal in a 1-2 count. Neal swung at a pitch that he appeared to foul off to the first base side, but catcher's interference was called on Smith, the Ports' backstop, allowing Neal to reach first and loading the bases (a catcher's interference is ruled as an E-2). Posey came up next and bounced a ball to third. Ports third baseman Christian Vitters bobbled the ball initially, then threw to first on a bounce that Carter couldn't handle. The two-base error allowed two runs to score and put the tying runs in scoring position. Villalona made the Ports pay even more with a game-tying two-run single to right, knotting the score at six.
Gordon would walk Gillaspie after Villalona's single and then be taken out of the game in favor of Steve Sharpe (1-0). None of the four runs that came in on Gordon's watch were earned, and Gordon would not factor into the decision.
Sharpe, meanwhile, slammed the door on San Jose upon entering the game. Sharpe would toss 2.1 scoreless innings and retire all seven batters he faced, striking out three and earning the win in the ballgame.
Tied at six in the top of the ninth, the Ports would score the three winning runs needed to win the game. Vitters atoned for his earlier error by leading off the ninth with a double. Two batters later, Giants reliever Daniel Turpen (2-1) issued back-to-back walks to Richard and Mitchell to load the bases. Carter came up next, and knocked an 0-2 pitch into right field, scoring two runs and putting the Ports ahead 8-6. Todd Johnson followed with a sac-fly to left, scoring Mitchell and giving the Ports a 9-6 cushion.
Turpen would take the loss for San Jose, pitching two innings and allowing the three runs in the ninth on two hit while walking three and striking out two.
The Ports and Giants will play the second game of their four-game set on Monday night at Municipal Stadium. Tyson Ross (0-2, 3.86 ERA) will head to the hill for Stockton, opposed by left-hander Craig Clark (3-2, 3.48 ERA). First pitch is set for 7 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.