STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Ports earned their 11th shutout win of the season on Saturday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Stockton nursed a 1-0 lead from the third to the eighth inning before breaking the game open late as they defeated the Visalia Rawhide by a final of 4-0 to secure a series victory and move to within two games of first place in the North Division and a game back of Visalia for the second-best overall record in the North Division.
Stockton's first run of the game came in the third without the benefit of a hit. Nate Mondou walked to open the inning and with two outs, Rawhide starter Jon Duplantier (4-2) hit Jake Smolinski to put two aboard. Sheldon Neuse came up next and hit a slow ground ball to second base that was mishandled by Fernery Ozuna, allowing Mondou to score and give Stockton a 1-0 lead.
The third inning run was unearned and the only tally allowed by Duplantier who suffered the loss despite pitching well as he went five innings and allowed two hits while matching a career-high with nine strikeouts.
Ports starter Dalton Sawyer (3-4) pitched around a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the third and pitched around singles in the fourth and fifth to keep Visalia out of the run column. Jason Morozowski led off the sixth and hit a line drive off Sawyer's lower right leg which led to Sawyer leaving the game due to injury. Joey Wagman came on in relief and retired all three batters he faced while striking out two of the three to end the inning and strand Sawyer's runner.
Sawyer would get the win, going five-plus innings and allowing four hits while striking out five.
Miguel Romero took over in the seventh and worked around a leadoff single and a one-out walk, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning that began a stretch of eight consecutive batters retired by Ports pitching to close out the contest. Romero would set the side down in order in the eighth to complete his outing. Kyle Friedrichs would come on and set the side down in order in the ninth while notching back-to-back strikeouts to close the ballgame.
Stockton widened its lead in the eighth facing Rawhide reliever Wei-Chieh Huang, who pitched a perfect seventh inning. Huang came back for the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to Skye Bolt followed by a walk to Smolinski before hitting Neuse to load the bases with nobody out. After Seth Brown popped out to the infield, Mikey White laced a bases-clearing double to the left field that stretched the Ports lead to 4-0.
The Ports will try for their first series sweep of the season on Sunday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Logan Shore (1-5, 4.94 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by Visalia right-hander Bo Takahashi (6-8, 4.32 ERA). First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.