SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - The Stockton Ports survived an Inland Empire 66ers rally on Wednesday night but couldn't do the same on Thursday night at San Manuel Stadium. Inland Empire erased a four-run deficit in handing the Ports a 10-8 loss to even the five-game series at one game apiece.
For a third straight contest the Ports scored in their half of the first inning as Nate Mondou tripled with one on and one out and Jonah Heim followed with an RBI single to give the Ports a 2-0 lead. The 66ers were quick to tie it on one swing of the bat in the bottom of the first as Julian Leon hit a two-out, two-run homer off Ports starter Evan Manarino to make it a 2-2 contest.
66ers starter Matt Ball would be lifted from the game after walking the first batter of the second inning. Ball went an inning-plus and allowed two runs on three hits while striking out two.
Stockton would take the lead back in the third inning facing 66ers reliever Isaac Mattson as Luis Barrera singled to open the frame and Mondou came up next and doubled to left. Left fielder Alberto Triunfel overran the ball allowing Barrera to score and give the Ports a 3-2 advantage. The lead ballooned to four runs in the fourth as the Ports loaded the bases following a botched double-play ball by 66ers shortstop Connor Justus. Mondou drove in two runs with a single up the middle and Jonah Heim followed with an RBI single to right to make it a 6-2 contest.
Mattson would go four innings and allow four runs (three earned) on eight hits while striking out two.
Manarino would pitch into the fourth for Stockton but not escape the frame as he allowed six straight hits to start the inning. Leon singled to start the inning and Justus followed with a two-run homer that cut the Stockton lead to 6-4. Jonah Todd doubled, David MacKinnon singled to put runners at the corners and Triunfel brought the 66ers to within a run with an RBI single to center to make it 6-5. After an infield single by Richie Facteau loaded the bases, Manarino was lifted for Will Gilbert. After getting Jahmain Jones to fly out to shallow center, Gilbert allowed a two-run single to Joe Adell that vaulted the 66ers in front 7-6.
Manarino would be rendered a no-decision in the contest as he allowed seven runs on nine hits while striking out two in three-plus innings of work. Gilbert would go on to pitch two scoreless frames and retire six of the seven batters he faced.
Brett Hanewich (2-0) would come on to pitch the sixth inning for the 66ers and issue back-to-back walks to open the frame. After a double-play groundout, Hanewich gave up an RBI double to right field to Jason Goldstein that tied the game at 7-7.
Andrew Tomasovich (1-1) took over for Gilbert in the bottom of the sixth and saw Triunfel reach to start the inning on an error committed by shortstop Jesus Lage. With Triunfel at second base and one out, Jones and Adell hit back-to-back RBI doubles that put Inland Empire in front 9-7, a lead they would not relinquish.
Tomasovich suffered the loss, going two innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits while striking out three.
Hanewich would pick up the win for the 66ers as he pitched a scoreless seventh and allowed one run on one hit while walking three and striking out three.
Mike Kaelin (SV, 1) came on to pitch the eighth for the 66ers and gave up a leadoff walk to Mondou, who scored two batters later on an RBI single by Luke Persico that cut the 66ers lead to 9-8. Kaelin would then get Goldstein to hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double-play.
Brendan Butler took over for Stockton in the bottom of the eighth and gave up a leadoff double to Triunfel, who scored two batters later on a throwing error committed by the shortstop Lage that gave Inland Empire an insurance run and a 10-8 advantage. The run would be unearned for Butler in his lone inning of work.
Kaelin would come back out for the ninth and pitch around a leadoff single by Sandber Pimentel to earn his first California League save.
The Ports and 66ers play the third game of their five-game series at San Manuel Stadium on Friday night. Matt Milburn (5-2, 3.99 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by Inland Empire right-hander Simon Matthews (1-3, 6.97 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.