STOCKTON, Calif. - On a rainy night at Banner Island Ballpark, the Stockton Ports shined brightly once again. The Ports got a career-high 10 strikeout performance from starter Jesus Luzardo (1-1) and two triples from Kevin Merrell on their way to a 5-3 win, their sixth straight victory and a series sweep of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
Both Luzardo and Quakes starter Andrew Sopko (1-1) dueled to a scoreless tie through the first four innings. The Quakes would break the tie in the top of the fifth as Jeren Kendall drew a leadoff walk and scored three batters later on an RBI single by Cody Thomas. Luzardo, pitching with runners at second and third and one out, would strike out Ibandel Isabel for the second out. After walking Donovan Casey to load the bases, Luzardo struck out Omar Estevez to end the inning and his outing.
Luzardo earned his first California League win, tossing five innings and allowing one run on two hits while walking three and striking out a career-best 10.
The Ports came back strong in the bottom of the fifth. After back-to-back singles put runners at the corners with nobody out, Nate Mondou laid down a safety squeeze bunt up the first base line to score Luke Persico from third and tie the game at 1-1. After Edwin Diaz walked, Sopko was lifted for Parker Curry who gave up a two-run triple to Merrell that gave the Ports a 3-1 lead. Josh Phegley added an RBI single to make it 4-1.
Sopko would suffer the loss, going 4.1 innings and allowing three runs on four hits while striking out five.
Boomer Biegalski took over for Luzardo in the sixth and struck out the side in order in his first inning. Biegalski would give up two singles and a walk that loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. Sam Sheehan was summoned from the bullpen and struck out Casey for the first out of the inning. Estevez came up next and hit a weak ground ball to the left side of the infield. Sheehan fielded and made an errant throw to first that allowed two runs to score, getting the Quakes to within a run at 4-3 and putting runners at second and third with two outs. Sheehan, though, would strike out Cristian Santana to end the inning and the threat.
The Ports would get one run back in the seventh as Merrell hit his second triple of the night off Curry to lead off the inning and scored on an ensuing wild pitch to make it 5-3. Curry allowed two runs on three hits in two innings.
After Sheehan pitched around a two-out error in the eighth, Angel Duno (SV, 1) took over in the ninth and pitched around a one-out double hit by Isabel to earn his first save of the season and his first save since his first professional season in 2012.
After sweeping the Quakes and winning six of seven on their opening homestand of the season, the Ports embark on their first road trip on Thursday as they travel to San Jose to open a four-game set with the Giants. Brian Howard (1-0, 0.00 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by San Jose left-hander Caleb Baragar (0-0, 0.00 ERA). First pitch at Municipal Stadium 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.