STOCKTON, Calif. - Opening Night 2014 at Banner Island Ballpark won't soon be forgotten. The Stockton Ports, down a run and down to their final out, tied the game on a Bobby Crocker home run and proceeded to beat the Visalia Rawhide in an 18-inning marathon as the Ports prevailed 6-5.
The Ports and Rawhide traded early blows as Stockton got a solo home run from Renato Nunez in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. The Rawhide came through with their lone big inning of the night in the second. With one on, Ryan Court homered to right off Ports starter Manny Correa to give Visalia a 2-1 lead. Two batters later, Brandon Jacobs homered to left to make it 3-1. After Ronnie Freeman singled and stole second, Evan Marzilli hit an RBI single to left to make it a 4-1 advantage for the Rawhide.
Outside of the second inning, Correa was nearly untouchable for Stockton. Correa went on to retire 14 of the final 15 batters he faced as he received a no-decision, going six innings and allowing four runs on five hits, all in the second inning.
Stockton got a run back in the second on a two-out RBI double hit by Dusty Robinson (1-0) that made it 4-2. After Rawhide starter Spencer Arroyo retired seven-in-a-row, he gave up a leadoff double to Robinson in the fifth and then a two-run homer to Pinder that tied the game at 4-4.
Arroyo went six innings and allowed four runs on six hits while striking out three.
Tied 4-4 in the ninth, Nolan Sanburn came on to pitch and gave up a leadoff double to Court. With Court at third and one out, Sanburn struck out Jacobs but Jacobs reached on a wild pitch and Court scored from third to put the Rawhide up 5-4.
Eugene Burgos came on for a second inning of relief in the ninth and retired the first two batters he faced. With two outs and the bases empty, Corcker came up and worked a 3-1 count and then launched a solo homer to center field that tied the game at 5-5. It was the only run and only hit allowed by Burgos in two innings of work.
The Ports and Rawhide went on to play deep into the night and the early morning. The Ports stranded 11 baserunners from the 10th inning to the end of the game
Stockton and Visalia combined to go 3-for-28 with runners and scoring position on the night.
After Wade Kirkland tossed a scoreless 16th and 17th innings for Stockton, Robinson moved from right field to the mound and pitched a scoreless 18th, eventually picking up the win.
After pitching a scoreless 17th inning, Cody Wheeler (0-1) came on to pitch the 18th and gave up a leadoff double to Chad Pinder. Billy McKinney followed with a game-winning single to center to give the Ports a 6-5 victory.
The Ports and Rawhide play the second game of their four-game set on Friday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Shawn Haviland (0-1, 1.93 ERA) will make the start for Stockton, opposed by Visalia left-hander Hector Hernandez (1-0, 0.00 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.