STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Ports established early offense with back-to-back first inning home runs, then benefitted from an eighth inning error to snap a three-game losing skid on Wednesday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Trailing 6-4 in the seventh inning, the Ports were helped out by a throwing error committed by Blaze reliever Brett Ash and scored four runs on their way to an 8-6 victory.
With two on and two out in the bottom of the first, Michael Soto hit a three-run homer off Blaze starter Carlos Missel to give Stockton the initial lead. Beau Taylor followed with his first home run of the season to make it a 4-0 advantage.
Bakersfield went on to score the next six runs in the ballgame, beginning with three in the second. After two walks and a single to load the bases, Justin Seager singled to center to give the Blaze their first run. Brock Hebert came up next and hit a sac-fly to center. A wild pitch later in the inning plated another run and cut the Ports lead to 4-3.
Ports starter Kyle Finnegan allowed the tying run to score in the fourth. With two outs, Hebert tripled to center and scored on an ensuing single by Luis Caballero to tie the game at 4-4.
The Blaze grabbed their first lead in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Finnegan was lifted for Jonathan Joseph (2-0), who gave up a sac-fly to Burt Reynolds that gave Bakersfield a 5-4 lead. The run was charged to Finnegan who received a no-decision after going 4.1 innings and allowing five hits while walking four and striking out three.
Joseph allowed his only run in the seventh when Marcus Littlewood led off the frame with a homer to right to make it a 6-4 Blaze lead.
After Paul Fry pitched three scoreless innings for the Blaze, Emilio Pagan (1-2) entered to pitch the seventh and gave up a leadoff triple to J.P. Sportman. After Brandon Cogswell drew a walk, Jon Nogowski singled to center to score Sportman and cut the Stockton deficit to 6-5. After Tyler Marincov struck out, Soto drew a walk that loaded the bases with one out, at which point Pagan was lifted for Ash. Facing Taylor, Ash induced a ground ball back toward the mound. Ash fielded and then attempted to throw home for the force out, but threw the ball wide of the catcher Littlewood, allowing two runs to score and giving the Ports the lead back at 7-6. Nick Rickles added a sacrifice fly to make it a two run advantage at 8-6.
Pagan suffered the loss after allowing four runs (one earned) in a third of an inning of relief. Joseph picked up the win, allowing one run on three hits in two-and-two-thirds innings of work.
Sam Bragg came on to pitch the eighth for Stockton and allowed back-to-back two-out walks, prompting the Ports to summon Andres Avila (SV, 1) from the bullpen. Avila recorded the final out of the eighth and then set the side down in order in the ninth to notch his first save of the season.
After going 3-4 on their first homestand of the season, the Ports head back out on the road Thursday for a seven-game road trip beginning with four games at Visalia. A's right-hander Jarrod Parker (0-0, 0.00 ERA) makes the start Thursday on a rehab assignment for the Ports, opposed by Rawhide right-hander Ryan Doran (1-0, 4.91 ERA). First pitch is set for 7 p.m. PDT.