SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - The Stockton Ports played their shortest game of the season on Saturday night at San Manuel Stadium, in part because they struggled in the hit department. Stockton scored a run in the ninth to avoid being shut out, but ultimately fell to the Inland Empire 66ers by a final of 3-1 in two hours and 20 minutes as their three-game series was evened up at a game apiece.
Inland Empire starter Andrew Wantz (4-3) and Ports starter Mitchell Jordan (4-4) dueled to a scoreless tie into the fifth inning with Wantz working around a two-out double followed by an infield single in the top of the fifth. Jordan retired the first two batters to open the bottom of the fifth but then gave up three straight two-out singles to Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Scott and Jo Adell, with Adell driving in Zimmerman to give Inland Empire a 1-0 lead.
Jordan worked into the sixth but did not record an out in the frame as he issued a leadoff walk to Torii Hunter, Jr. followed by back-to-back singles to Michael Cruz and Ryan Vega with Vega driving in Hunter to make it a 2-0 game. At that point, Jordan was lifted for Seth Martinez who worked out of the inning without allowing either of his two inherited runners to score.
Jordan would suffer the loss, going five-plus innings and allowing two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out four.
Wantz would match a season-high by working five innings in picking up the win, allowing four hits while striking out a season-high eight.
After Martinez worked a scoreless two innings, Nick Highberger took over in the eighth and gave up back-to-back singles to Hunter and Cruz to open the frame. With one out, Gleyvin Pineda drove in an insurance run for the 66ers with a single to right field to make it a 3-0 ballgame. It was the only run allowed by Highberger in his lone inning of work.
Travis Herrin (SV, 1) took over for Wantz in the sixth and set down the first nine batters he faced taking him into the ninth inning. Nick Allen opened the ninth with a single and scored two batters later on the first triple of the season hit by Lazaro Armenteros to make it a 3-1 game. Armenteros, though, would be stranded at third to end the game as Austin Beck struck out swinging and Hunter Hargrove flied out to center to end the ballgame.
Herrin notched his first save of the season as he allowed one run on two hits while striking out six in four innings of relief.
The Ports and 66ers will play the rubber match of their three-game series in a Sunday matinee at San Manuel Stadium. Brady Feigl (3-2, 3.71 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by Inland Empire right-hander Simon Mathews (0-0, 5.40 ERA). First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.