VISALIA, Calif.- The Stockton Ports were one out away from a loss but rallied for a thrilling win on Tuesday night at Recreation Ballpark. Lazaro Armenteros tied the game with an RBI single with Stockton down to its final out in the ninth and Nico Giarratano supplied a pinch-hit three-run homer in the 10th that lifted Stockton to a 4-2 win over the Visalia Rawhide in the opener of a three-game series.
Ports starter Xavier Altamirano enjoyed one of the best outings of his career. Altamirano gave up a leadoff double to Jancarlos Cintron in the third. Three batters later, Eduardo Diaz singled to left to score Cintron and give Visalia a 1-0 lead that they enjoyed until the top of the ninth. It was the only run allowed by Altamirano, who went a career-long eight innings and allowed three hits while walking one and striking out six.
Visalia starter Ryan Weiss, making his California League debut, sparked in six scoreless innings. Weiss allowed just two hits while walking two and striking out five as he would be rendered a no-decision in the contest. Cole Bartlett came on to work the seventh, allowed a leadoff single to Jonah Bride and then proceeded to retire the next six batters he faced.
Cameron Gann (0-1) came on to work the top of the ninth for Visalia and gave up an infield single to Alfonso Rivas to open the frame. Gann would make an errant pick-off throw that allowed Rivas to get to second base. After Jeremy Eierman flied out and Bride struck out, Armenteros came up and delivered a flair into shallow left field for a base hit that scored Rivas and tied the game at 1-1.
Ty Damron (1-0) came on to work the bottom of the ninth and gave up a one-out single to Diaz. With Diaz at first base and two away, Luis Alejandro Basabe lined a double to left field. Armenteros fielded the ball and started a relay home through the shortstop Eierman that caught Diaz trying to score at the plate, ending the inning and sending the game into extra frames.
Gann stayed on to work the top of the 10th for Visalia. With two on and two out, Giarratano was summoned to pinch-hit for Yhoelnys Gonzalez and hit a three-run homer to right field that gave the Ports a 4-1 advantage.
Gann would suffer the loss, going two innings and allowing four runs (one earned) on three hits while striking out two.
Nick Highberger (SV, 6) came on to work the bottom of the 10th and gave up a two-out RBI double to Geraldo Perdomo that allowed the free runner to score from second base and cut the Ports lead to 4-2. Facing Cintron as the possible-tying run at the plate, Highberger got him to fly out to right field to end the ballgame, notching his sixth save of the season and sealing the win for Damron.
The Ports and Rawhide play the second game of their three-game set on Wednesday night at Recreation Ballpark. Left-hander Hogan Harris (0-0, 1.93 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by Visalia southpaw Bryan Valdez (1-2, 3.86 ERA). First pitch 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.