STOCKTON, Calif. - The Visalia Rawhide came into Banner Island Ballpark the California League's hottest team. The Stockton Ports found a way to cool them off. Stockton completed a three-game sweep of Visalia on Wednesday night with a 6-4 victory, putting six games of separation between themselves and the Rawhide in the North Division standings.
For the third straight game, Stockton was the first team to score as they plated a run in the second. With the bases loaded and one out, Daniel Robertson hit a sac-fly to right to score Beau Taylor.
Visalia grabbed its first lead of the series in the top of the third. After Ports starter Dylan Covey (1-2) retired the first two batters, he walked Kevin Medrano and then gave up three straight singles including back-to-back RBI knocks by Alex Glenn and Rudy Flores that gave the Rawhide a 2-1 lead. Visalia extended its lead to 3-1 in the fourth on a two-out RBI single by Ryan Gebhardt.
Stockton tied the game and then took the lead back in the bottom of the fourth. Bobby Crocker singled to open the frame and Jaycob Brugman followed with a two-run homer to right that knotted the score at 3-3. With one out, Robertson and Chad Pinder hit back-to-back singles that put runners at the corners. With two away, Renato Nunez brought in Robertson with an infield single to third to give the Ports a 4-3 lead.
The Rawhide scored their final run in the fifth to tie the contest again. With one on and one out, Steve McQuail doubled to right to score Glenn and even the score at 4-4. It was the final run allowed by Covey who went on to receive his first California League win, going five innings and allowing four runs on nine hits while striking out six.
The Ports grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the fifth. Rawhide starter Brandon Sinnery (10-7) gave up a leadoff single to Taylor and a one-out single to Brugman and was then lifted for Keith Hessler. After Hessler walked Zeke DeVoss to load the bases, Robertson hit a fly ball into shallow center field that fell in. Center fielder Socrates Brito fielded on a bounce and threw to third for a force out on Brugman, but Robertson was still credited with the RBI as Stockton pulled ahead 5-4.
Sinnery suffered the loss going 4.1 innings and allowing five runs on 10 hits while striking out three.
Hessler allowed a run in the sixth on a one-out RBI single by Taylor that extended the Stockton lead to 6-4. It was the final run scored by the Ports and the only run allowed by Hessler in an inning-and-two-thirds of relief.
Kyle Schepel and Daniel Gibson each pitched a scoreless inning down the stretch for the Rawhide.
Andres Avila pitched two scoreless innings for the Ports beginning in the sixth. Rodolfo Fernandez set the side down in order in the eighth and Austin House (SV, 16) gave up a walk and a hit with one out in the ninth, but got Flores to hit into a game-ending double-play to notch his 16th save of the season.
After sweeping Visalia, the Ports welcome the Modesto Nuts to Banner Island Ballpark for a four-game series beginning on Thursday night. Josh Bowman (4-7, 5.60 ERA) will make the start for Stockton, opposed by Modesto right-hander Devin Burke (5-10, 6.15 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.