VISALIA, Calif. - With their backs against the wall, the Stockton Ports surged early and late on Saturday night at Recreation Ballpark. The Boys of Banner Island cruised to an 11-2 win over the Visalia Rawhide to force a winner-take-all Game 5 Sunday night at Banner Island Ballpark, with the winner advancing to take on the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the California League Championship Series.
Stockton's offense got rolling early as the Ports put runners at the corners to open the second inning on a Viosergy Rosa double and a Brett Siddall single. After Edwin Diaz struck out, Sandber Pimentel singled to right to drive in the first run of the ballgame and Brallan Perez and Santiago Chavez followed with back-to-back RBI singles to give the Ports a 3-0 lead. Those were the only three runs allowed by Rawhide starter Cole Stapler (0-1), who suffered the loss after going four innings and allowing seven hits while walking three and striking out seven.
Ports starter Grant Holmes was near-perfect in his four innings of work. Holmes pitched around a one-out walk in the first inning in retiring 12 of the 13 batters he faced. He did not allow a hit and struck out five while throwing 58 pitches, 37 for strikes.
Stockton's offense kept building on the lead beginning in the fifth facing Visalia reliever Jake Winston. With two outs and the bases empty, Rosa doubled to the left field wall and scored on an ensuing single by Siddall to make it a 4-0 contest. It was the only run allowed by Winston in his two innings of relief.
Jason Creasy took over for the Rawhide in the seventh and gave up a one-out double to Luke Persico, who scored later in the inning on a wild pitch to make it a 5-0 game. It was the only run allowed by Creasy in two innings of relief.
Zack Erwin (1-0) took over for Holmes in the fifth inning and kept Visalia out of the run column over his first three inning of relief, allowing just an infield single in that span. Visalia would jump on the board in the bottom of the eighth inning as Renae Martinez doubled to right-center and scored later in the inning on a fielder's choice force play hit into by Jazz Chisholm to make it 5-1. Erwin would get Drew Ellis to strike out to end the inning and keep it a four-run game.
In looking for insurance in the top of the ninth, the Ports exploded for six runs to blow the game open facing Rawhide reliever Robby Sexton. With runners at the corners and one out, Persico hit a potential double-play ball to the shortstop Chisholm that got through his legs, an error that allowed Kevin Merrell to score from third and the inning to continue. Later in the frame, Siddall walked, and Diaz delivered a two-run double to left-center to make it an 8-1 contest. Sandber Pimentel followed with a three-run homer to center field that gave Stockton a commanding 11-1 advantage.
Sexton allowed six runs (one earned) on three hits in his lone inning of relief.
Erwin would close out the game in the ninth and see a run score on a wild pitch, but the left-hander went on to earn the win, going five innings and allowing two runs on three hits while walking three and striking out six.
With their best-of-five series tied two games apiece, the Ports and Rawhide play a decisive Game 5 on Sunday night at Banner Island Ballpark. The Ports have yet to announce a starter for the contest. Visalia will start left-hander Sebastian Kessay (0-1, 13.50 ERA). First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.