STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Ports survived a late Inland Empire 66ers rally to salvage the final game of a three-game series on Thursday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Inland Empire plated five runs over the final two innings to pull to within a run, but Eric Marinez (SV, 1) bailed the Ports out by entering the game with the tying run in scoring position and inducing a strikeout followed by a game-ending double play, preserving an 8-7 win.
Inland Empire scored the first two runs of the game as they collected a run in the second and a run in the third on RBI groundouts by Gleyvin Pineda and Orlando Martinez. Those would be the only two runs allowed by Ports starter Mitchell Jordan (9-7), who earned the win by going seven strong innings and allowing four hits while striking out four. Jordan set down the final nine batters he faced in the contest.
Stockton's offense came to life in the third inning when, with one on and two out, Alfonso Rivas and Josh Phegley hit back-to-back singles with Phegley driving in Yhoelnys Gonzalez to make it 2-1. After Phegley reached second on a throwing error on the back end of his base hit, 66ers starter Travis Herrin (3-5) uncorked back-to-back wild pitches allowing Rivas and Phegley to score and give the Ports a 3-2 lead.
Robert Mullen added to the Stockton lead with a solo home run in the fourth to make it a 4-2 contest. Herrin worked into the fifth and left with the bases loaded and nobody out, turning the ball over to Simon Matthews. Matthews gave up a two-run double to Austin Beck followed by a two-run single to Mullen that stretched the Stockton lead to 8-2.
Herrin would suffer the loss, going four-plus innings and allowing seven runs (six earned) on four hits while walking five and striking out six. Matthews allowed one run on four hits in three innings of work.
Nick Highberger took over for Stockton in the eighth and after an error and a walk put the first two aboard, he surrendered a three-run homer to Orlando Martinez that cut the Stockton lead to 8-5. After back-to-back walks, Highberger was lifted for Jake Bray, who escaped the inning with back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout.
Bray would come on to start the ninth and gave up back-to-back walks, followed by back-to-back singles, the second to Mike Stefanic that drew the 66ers within a run at 8-7 and put the possible-tying run at second with nobody out. Marinez was summoned at that point and got Zane Gurwitz to strike out, followed by a double play off the bat of Spencer Griffin to end the ballgame as Marinez collected his first California League save.
Phegley went 2-for-5 with two singles, an RBI and two runs scored on his Major League rehab assignment.
The Ports embark on a six-game road trip on Friday beginning with three games at the Lake Elsinore Storm. Xavier Altamirano (5-9, 5.05 ERA) makes the start in the series opener for Stockton, opposed by Lake Elsinore left-hander Aaron Leasher (10-6, 3.14 ERA). First pitch at The Diamond 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.