Rain can't stop Blaze in 9-1 win over Ports

Justin Friend tossed 3.0 scoreless innings. (George Steckler)

By Stockton Ports | May 1, 2009 10:21 PM ET

STOCKTON, Calif.-Neither the Ports pitchers nor the steady sheets of rain crossing Banner Island Ballpark could stop the Bakersfield Blaze Friday night, as the Blaze (7-14) defeated the Ports (5-17), 9-1.

The game began with an eight-minute rain delay as the grounds crew worked to get the tarp off the field and the diamond playable. There was a 38-minute rain delay in the fourth inning, and another 10-minute rain delay in between the top and bottom of the eighth inning.

Southpaw Carlos Hernandez started the game for the Ports and had a troubled outing, allowing four earned runs in three innings, with five walks.

The Blaze got to Hernandez in the first inning. Both Engel Beltre and Renny Osuna singled to start off the first, and Mitch Moreland walked to load the bases with no out. A single by Mauro Gomez scored both runners. Hernandez settled down a bit, and fanned the next three batters to escape the inning.

Hernandez retired the side in the second inning, but the Blaze got the better of him in the third inning. Hernandez allowed two consecutive walks to Osuna and Moreland to start the inning, and then walked Gomez to load the bases with no out. Jonathan Greene also walked to bring home Osuna.

Following the four straight passes, Hernandez induced designated hitter Ian Gac to line out. Joey Butler stepped up to the plate and brought home the fourth Bakersfield run, as he reached on a fielder's choice. Hernandez got out of the inning by striking out catcher Jose Felix.

The Ports had a couple opportunities to score early in the game. They had two base runners on with two out in the second, but were unable to capitalize on the chance.

In the fourth inning, the Ports threatened again, unsuccessfully. With two out, third baseman Larry Cobb singled, and was followed on base by designated hitter, Shane Keough, who walked. Second baseman Alex Valdez stepped up to the plate and notched his second consecutive single of the game, but a miscue on the basepaths cost the Ports the potential run.

Cobb was held up at third by manager Aaron Nieckula, but Keough kept running toward third base, assuming that Cobb had the green light to go home. Beltre threw to Felix to try to put out Cobb, but Felix then threw to shortstop Davis Stoneburner to get Keough in a run-down. Cobb then worked to advance home, and was caught stealing as Stoneburner threw the ball back to Felix, to end the inning.

Justin Friend, who pitched the fourth through sixth innings for the Ports held the Bakersfield bats in check, only allowing one hit and one walk in his three innings of work. The Ports bats were also relatively quiet in the fifth and sixth innings.

In the seventh inning, Chad Kerfoot took the hill for the Ports, and ran into some trouble. He hit Beltre with a pitch to begin the inning. After Osuna flew out, Moreland doubled to right field to score Beltre. Kerfoot hit Gomez to put runners on first and second with one out. Moreland came around to score his second run of the game as Greene was scored on a single by Gac. Kerfoot got out of the inning, but the damage was done-Bakersfield held a 6-0 lead.

Stockton threatened again in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with just one out, but a strikeout by Jermaine Mitchell and a line out by Matt Spencer left all three runners stranded.

In the top of the eighth, the Blaze knocked three consecutive singles, and brought home two more runs, making it an 8-0 lead.

Following a 10-minute rain delay as the grounds crew worked to adjust the field, the Ports loaded the bases to start the bottom of the eighth inning. Johnson led off the action with his first hit of the game, and Cobb reached base after being hit by a pitch. A single by Shane Keough put a third Stockton baserunner on the bags.

Johnson became the first and only Ports runner to score Friday night, crossing home plate as Dante Love reached first on a fielder's choice. With runners on the corners and two out, Michael Richard grounded out to end the inning.

The Blaze added their last run in the top of the ninth inning of lefty Nick Walters. With two on and two out, Stoneburner hit a single to score Greene, but Gac was put out at third to end the inning.

The Ports worked to come back in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Jermaine Mitchell walked, and was followed on base by Matt Spencer, who singled. With the single, Spencer finished the game 1x5 and extended his hitting streak to nine games, the longest hitting streak on the team this season. Johnson loaded the bases with a single that rocketed back up to the mound and bounced off pitcher Evan Reed's leg and just out of the infield dirt.

With bases loaded for the third consecutive inning, the Ports were unable to capitalize in the ninth. Cobb struck out swinging, and Shane Keough grounded out to end the game.

The Ports will battle the Blaze for the sixth time this season Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Banner Island Ballpark, which is also the 2nd Annual Canadian Tuxedo Night in Stockton. RHP Craig Italiano (1-2, 5.40) will take on RHP Blake Beavan (0-3, 5.48) in the contest.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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