VISALIA, CA - What was a pitcher's duel into the fifth inning turned into a see-saw of a game with lead changes in the fifth and sixth innings. And with Stockton leading 3-2, the Rawhide got another chance in the seventh.
In what was nearly a carbon copy of the fourth inning, the first two Rawhide hitters singled, with Matt McPhearson bunting his way aboard and Sergio Alcantara lining a single to left. Jason Morozowski would strike out swinging and Stockton gave Marty Herum, Visalia's hottest hitter, an intentional walk to load the bases. It brought up Francis Christy, who had given the Rawhide the lead back in the fifth with his two-out single to right to score Morozowski, but this time he struck out swinging to leave the inning up to Henry Castillo.
Castillo fell quickly into a 1-2 count against left-hander Jared Lyons (L, 1-2), but then drilled a grounder through the left side for a base hit. McPhearson scored easily from third and Shelley Duncan decided to send Alcantara as Stockton left fielder James Harris charged the ball. Harris's throw was on the money, but Alcantara slid around the tag of Ports catcher Santiago Chavez and put Visalia (23-23) on top 4-3, which was the final lead change of the game.
Stockton (21-25) put the tying run on base in both the eighth and ninth innings against Cameron Gann and Bud Jeter (SV, 11), but the Ports were unable to get the big hit in the later innings, stranding the tying run on third in the eighth and on first in the ninth.
Visalia was in a position to win because Bo Takahashi (W, 1-2) put them there. Takahashi tied a career-high by dishing out seven innings while allowing three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts. Between the end of the first and the top of the fifth inning, Takahashi set down 13 consecutive Ports hitters, keeping the Rawhide on top 1-0 at the time. Two of the three runs against him came on a two-run homer by Trent Gilbert in the sixth. But Takahashi returned to the routine and retired the side in order in his seventh and final inning.
Entering the game, the Rawhide had scored just one run of support for Takahashi over his three starts. Tonight, they gave him four, and it was just enough.
Alcantara finished the game with three hits and a run scored and Henry Castillo added three hits with two driven in and a double. Grant Heyman put up a multi-hit night as well, doubling in Castillo for the Rawhide's first run of the game in the second inning. The win gave Visalia its second straight win after ending the four-game skid in Rancho Cucamonga last night.
The Rawhide will resume the three-game series against Stockton tomorrow evening and will look for their second consecutive home series win. First pitch will be at 6:00 PM and will face off Visalia RHP Ryan Atkinson and Stockton RHP Casey Meisner. Tickets are still available on Rawhidebaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.