STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Ports pulled out a riveting win that earned them a trip to the 2017 California League playoffs on Sunday night. The Ports blew an early 4-0 lead, escaped a late jam and plated a two-out run in the eighth on their way to a 6-5 win over the San Jose Giants. Stockton's win coupled with a Visalia Rawhide loss to the Modesto Nuts assured the Ports a playoff berth and a date with Modesto on Wednesday night at John Thurman Field.
Stockton came out of the gate hot in the first inning. With one out, Branden Cogswell tripled and scored on an ensuing single by Skye Bolt. Seth Brown came up next and hit his league-leading 30th home run, a two-run blast that made him the franchise's all-time single season leader in RBI as it gave him 109 on the season. Mikey White came up next and went back-to-back with a solo homer to left to give the Ports a 4-0 advantage.
The four first inning runs were the only runs allowed by Giants starter Grant Watson, who went 4.2 innings and allowed six hits while walking three and striking out six.
Stockton starter Angel Duno gave up a leadoff home run to Gio Brusa in the second inning, Brusa's third of the series, that put San Jose on the board. Duno would work into the fifth and give up back-to-back singles to open the frame. With runners at second and third and one out, Cristian Paulino grounded out to drive in a run and make it 4-2. After Ryan Howard was hit by a pitch, Duno was lifted for Kyle Friedrichs (2-2), who gave up a three-run homer to Ryan Howard that gave the Giants a 5-4 advantage.
Duno would not factor into the decision, going 4.2 innings and allowing four runs on six hits while striking out two.
Stockton tied the game in the sixth facing Giants reliever Heath Slatton. With two on and nobody out, Argenis Raga singled to left to tie the game at 5-5. It was the only run allowed by Slatton in an inning-and-a-third of relief.
Friedrichs would set down seven consecutive batters after allowing the Reynolds home run to take him into the eighth inning. Howard would reach to start the inning on an infield single, Reynolds followed with a double to right and Dillon Dobson walked to load the baes with nobody out. Friedrichs would bear down, getting Brusa to fly out to third and getting back-to-back strikeouts of Heath Quinn and Ronnie Jebavy to escape the jam unscathed.
Friedrichs would go on to earn the win, going 3.1 innings and allowing one run on three hits while striking out four.
Will LaMarche (4-2) took over in the seventh and struck out the side in his first inning of relief. LaMarche struck out the first two batters in the eighth inning but then issued a walk to pinch-hitter Sandber Pimentel, who was lifted for pinch-runner Luis Barrera. With Nate Mondou batting, Barrera stole second. He would score on an ensuing RBI single by Mondou that gave the Ports a 6-5 lead.
LaMarche would suffer the loss, going two innings and allowing one run on two hits while striking out five.
Nolan Blackwood (SV, 19) would come on to pitch the ninth and set the side down in order, ending the game with a strikeout of Paulino to notch his 17th consecutive save.
The Ports and Giants will play the final game of the regular season on Monday night at Banner Island Ballpark. The Ports have yet to announce a starter for the contest. San Jose will throw left-hander Garrett Williams (2-1, 1.55 ERA). First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.