SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - The Stockton Ports suffered their fifth loss of the season when leading after the eighth inning Friday night at San Manuel Stadium. The Inland Empire 66ers, trailing 6-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth, scored four runs and never made an out in the final frame as Stockton suffered a shocking 7-6 loss in the third game of a five-game series.
For a fourth straight game the Ports scored in their half of the first inning as Nate Mondou drove in Luis Barrera with an RBI double and Jonah Heim brought in Mondou on a sac-fly to center field to give Stockton a 2-0 lead.
The 66ers tied the score in the third inning as Jo Adell, with one on and one out, doubled down the left field line to score the first Inland Empire run. Adell scored two batters later on a two-out RBI double by Jordan Zimmerman that tied the game at 2-2. Inland Empire took the lead in the bottom of the fourth on a two-out RBI triple by Richie Facteau to make it a 3-2 contest.
Milburn would be in line for the win going into the ninth inning but would be rendered a no-decision as he allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings while striking out six.
Inland Empire starter Simon Mathews allowed just the two runs in the first inning as he would also not factor into the decision, going five innings and allowing two runs on five hits while striking out four.
The Ports took the lead back in the top of the seventh inning without the benefit of a hit. 66ers reliever Kida De La Cruz would issue two walks and hit a batter that loaded the bases with two outs. Jonah Heim, on a 3-2 pitch, took ball four in the dirt and the pitch caromed away from catcher Julian Leon, allowing two runs to score and putting Stockton in front 4-3.
De La Cruz would be in line to suffer the loss but would end up with a no-decision after allowing two runs without allowing a hit in an inning-and-two-thirds.
Stockton plated two insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning facing 66ers reliever Blake Smith. With two on and two out, Heim delivered a two-run triple, his first of the year, to increase the Stockton lead to 6-3. They were the only runs allowed by Smith in two innings of relief.
After Trey Cochran-Gill pitched two scoreless frames in relief of Milburn, Sam Sheehan took over to begin the ninth and gave up back-to-back singles to Facteau and Alberto Triunfel to open the frame. After Sheehan threw a wild pitch that allowed Triunfel to score from third, Jahmai Jones walked to put two aboard. Sheehan was then lifted for Angel Duno (3-1), who gave up a game-tying two-run double to Adell that knotted the contest at 6-6. After Duno intentionally walked Brandon Marsh, Zimmerman came to the plate and delivered the game-winning RBI single to center with Adell beating Barrera's throw to the plate to give Inland Empire a 7-6 walk-off win.
Sheehan would be charged with three runs in the ninth inning while Duno, who suffered the loss, was responsible for the winning run crossing home plate.
Zack Kelly (1-0), who recorded the final out of the top of the ninth inning, picked up his first California League victory for Inland Empire.
The Ports and 66ers play the fourth game of their five-game set on Saturday night at San Manuel Stadium. Left-hander Zack Erwin (7-5, 4.74 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by right-hander Nick Tropeano who starts the game on a Major League rehab assignment for Inland Empire. 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.