STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Ports used the home run ball to earn a win in both their three-game series and season series with the Inland Empire 66ers on Wednesday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Stockton got a pair of three-run homers as part of an eight-run fourth inning on their way to a 9-5 win over Inland Empire to close out the season series with the 66ers, taking seven of the 13 games played head-to-head.
Inland Empire opened the scoring in the second as Brandon Sandoval came up with two on and one out and delivered a two-run single to center that gave the 66ers a 2-0 lead. Those would be the only runs allowed by Stockton starter Logan Shore, who did not factor into the decision after going four innings and allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out six. Shore, after allowing six hits over his first two innings, retired seven of his last eight batters to finish his outing.
The Ports got a run back in the second as Sheldon Neuse hit a solo homer to left off 66ers starter Jose Rodriguez (7-11) to make it a 2-1 game.
Rodriguez would not see the end of the fourth inning. After retiring the first batter he faced, Stockton would see five consecutive batters reach base. Neuse walked, Mikey White singled and Skye Bolt hit a three-run homer that vaulted the Ports in front 4-2. Argenis Raga and Luis Barrera then hit back-to-back singles before the second out was recorded. After Richie Martin walked with two outs to load the bases, Rodriguez was lifted for Blake Smith who gave up a two-run single to Brett Siddall upon entering the game to make it 6-2. Seth Brown followed with a three-run homer to right that opened up a 9-2 Stockton advantage.
Rodriguez would suffer the loss as he was charged with seven runs on five hits over 3.2 innings pitched. Smith would allow two runs on four hits over 3.1 innings worked.
Brendan Butler (4-3) took over for Stockton in the fifth and set down his first seven batters and 10 of his first 11 to take him one out deep into the eighth. Jack Kruger would single with one out and score three batters later on an RBI double by Keith Grieshaber. Jordan Serena came up next with two on and two out and hit a pop-fly to shallow right that was dropped by the right fielder Barrera. Two runs would score before Barerra picked up the ball and threw to second in time to get Serena who was trying to stretch the play, thus ending the inning.
Butler worked into the ninth and, after retiring the first batter, gave up back-to-back singles to Brennon Lund and Jordan Zimmerman. With the possible-tying run in the on-deck circle, Nolan Blackwood (SV, 12) was summoned from the bullpen and retired both batters he faced to strand his inherited runners and notch his 12th save of the season.
After taking two of three from Inland Empire, the Ports travel to Visalia on Thursday to begin a four-game set with the Rawhide. James Naile (0-0, 6.00 ERA) makes the start for Stockton in the series opener, opposed by Visalia left-hander Cody Reed (4-4, 3.34 ERA). First pitch at Recreation Ballpark is set for 7 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.