STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Ports dropped the final game of the regular season to the Visalia Rawhide by a final of 7-4 on Monday night at Banner Island Ballpark. In doing so, the Ports finish the second half tied with Visalia atop the Second Half standings. By way of a head-to-head tiebreaker, Visalia claims the Second Half title in the North Division as the teams prepare to open a best-of-five North Division Championship Series on Wednesday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
Visalia enjoyed a quick start offensively in the top of the first inning. Ports starter Grant Holmes hit Camden Duzenack to open the game and, two batters later, walked Drew Ellis. Daulton Varsho opened the scoring with an RBI single to left to give the Rawhide a 1-0 lead. Renae Martinez followed with a two-run double to make it a 3-0 contest.
Holmes would not factor into the decision after going three innings and allowing three runs on three hits while walking two, hitting two batters and striking out four. He threw 65 pitches, 38 for strikes.
Stockton's first run came off Visalia starter Jake Winston in the bottom of the second. Edwin Diaz hit a solo homer with two outs that cut the Rawhide lead to 3-1. Winston would go on to issue three consecutive walks to load the bases with two outs but got Brallan Perez to pop out to the infield to escape the jam. Winston allowed one run on one hit in two innings of work.
The Rawhide got the lead back to three runs in the fifth on a leadoff home run by Marcus Wilson. It was the only run allowed by Andrew Tomasovich in two innings of relief.
After Carlos Bustamante and Erbert Gonzalez each pitched two scoreless innings for Visalia, Robby Sexton took over in the seventh. The Ports would load the bases on two singles and a walk and had Viosergy Rosa come to the plate and draw a walk to bring in a run to make it a 4-2 game. Greg Deichmann followed with a two-run single to left field that tied the game at 4-4.
Sexton would not factor into the decision after allowing three runs on three hits in his lone inning of work.
Trey Cochran-Gill (1-2) took over for the Ports in the eighth and saw Martinez reach on an error committed by the shortstop Diaz. After back-to-back strikeouts, Adam Walton delivered an RBI double to right-center that gave the Rawhide a 5-4 lead. Cochran-Gill remained on to work the ninth and, with two outs, walked Ellis and then surrendered a two-run homer to Varsho that stretched the Visalia lead to 7-4.
Cochran-Gill would suffer the loss, going two innings and allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits while striking out three.
Jason Creasy (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth inning for Visalia and picked up the victory. Breckin Williams set the side down in order in the ninth to notch his second save of the season.
With the loss, the Ports finish the regular season with a record of 77-63. Visalia, with the victory, closes out the campaign at 70-70.
Following a day off on Tuesday, the Ports and Rawhide open the best-of-five North Division Championship Series at Banner Island Ballpark on Wednesday night. Matt Milburn (9-5, 3.49 ERA) starts Game 1 for Stockton, opposed by Visalia right-hander Riley Smith (8-6, 3.57 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.