STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Ports continued to play long ball on Friday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Stockton hit three home runs that accounted for four of their five runs as they broke a 4-4 tie with a run in the bottom of the eighth for a 5-4 win to open a three-game series with the Visalia Rawhide.
The Ports jumped in front first in the second inning as Sandber Pimentel hit a two-out solo home run off Rawhide starter Jose Almonte to give the Ports a 1-0 lead. Visalia countered in the top of the third on a two-out RBI single by Austin Byler, scoring Seth Spivey who singled to open the inning.
Stockton grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the third on a leadoff homer by Mikey White. Visalia returned fire again the ensuing half-inning as Matt McPhearson tripled with one out and scored on a sac-fly by Jorge Flores to tie the game at 2-2.
Visalia's first and only lead came in the fifth as Ben Deluzio singled to start the inning, went to third on a wild pitch and scored two batters later on a sac-fly by Jason Morozowski to make it a 3-2 Rawhide advantage. It was the last run allowed by Ports starter Angel Duno, who did not factor into the decision after going six innings and allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out three.
Visalia's lead was short-lived as the Ports took the lead back in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Mikey White singled and Argenis Raga hit a two-run homer to left to make it a 4-3 ballgame. Those were the last runs allowed by Almonte, who also received a no-decision after going six innings and allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out four.
Armando Ruiz (2-1) came on in relief to start the seventh and gave up a leadoff single to Deluzio followed by a walk to Tyler Baker. Morozowski came up next and hit into a 4-6-3 double-play on which Deluzio rounded third and scored all the way from second to tie the game at 4-4. It was the only run allowed by Ruiz, who went on to pitch around a single and a walk in the eighth and went on to pick up the win, going two innings and allowing one run on two hits.
Colin Poche (0-1) would come on to pitch the eighth after a scoreless seventh was worked by Austin Mason. Poche would issue back-to-back walks to Skye Bolt and Richie Martin. After Brett Siddall struck out, Seth Brown walked to load the bases and bring up Sheldon Neuse, who muscled a single into center field to bring across the go-ahead run and give Stockton a 5-4 lead. Poche would get back-to-back strikeouts to avoid further damage but would suffer the loss after allowing the go-ahead run.
Nolan Blackwood (SV, 14) would come on to pitch the ninth and gave up a leadoff single, but got Morozowski to hit into a 6-3 double-play. With two outs, Byler singled into right field and bring up Grant Heyman, who hit a towering fly ball to the wall in right-center field. Center fielder Eli White made the catch with his back near the wall to end the ballgame and secure Blackwood's second save in as many games.
The Ports and Rawhide play the middle game of their three-game series on Saturday at Banner Island Ballpark. Left-hander Dalton Sawyer (2-4, 3.57 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by Visalia right-hander Jon Duplantier (4-1, 2.11 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.