STOCKTON, Calif. - The Visalia Rawhide ended the Stockton Ports' four-game win streak on Monday night and, in doing so, clinched the First Half title in the North Division. The Ports stranded a season-high 14 runners and went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position as Visalia earned a 4-2 victory at Banner Island Ballpark.
Visalia opened the scoring in the second inning as Jake McCarthy doubled with one out, Camden Duzenak was hit by a pitch and, after a double steal, Anfernee Grier delivered a two-run single that gave the Rawhide the early lead.
The Ports got a run back in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded and two outs, Jameson Hannah reached base on a catcher's interference that allowed a run to score. Rawhide starter Matt Mercer went on to strike out Alfonso Rivas as the Ports left the bases loaded.
The Rawhide pushed their lead back to two runs in the top of the third when Mark Karaviotis drove in a run with a two-out infield single to make it 3-1. It was the final run allowed by Ports starter James Kaprielian (1-2), who suffered the loss after going three innings and allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits while hitting a batter and striking out four.
The Ports got to within a run again in the third. With runners at second and third and one out, Jeremy Eierman hit a sac-fly to center to score Hunter Hargrove and make it a 3-2 game. It was the last run allowed by Rawhide pitching and the last run allowed by starter Matt Mercer, who did not factor into the decision after going three innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out four.
Luis Castillo (5-0) pitched three scoreless innings in relief for Visalia following Mercer's start and Castillo would pick up the win in the contest. Mack Lemieux came on to work the seventh and was able to escape a bases-loaded jam with one out with back-to-back strikeouts of Eierman and Jonah Bride. Lemieux started the eighth and issued a walk to Robert Mullen, at which point he was lifted for Breckin Williams (SV, 4). Williams gave up a double to Nick Allen that put runners at second and third with nobody out. Hannah came up next and hit a ground ball to third. Third baseman Luis Basabe fielded and threw home as they got Mullen in a rundown between third and home plate. Catcher Tim Susnara chased Mullen back to the third base bag to find Allen already occupying it. Susnara tagged both Mullen and Allen and Allen was ruled out. Mullen thought he was the one that was ruled out and walked off the bag, where he was tagged out by Susnara for the second out of the inning.
Lemieux did not allow a run in an inning-plus of work. Williams would go on to pitch a scoreless ninth and record his fourth save of the season.
Visalia added a run in the seventh inning as the Rawhide took advantage of two Ports fielding errors in the frame. The run was unearned, and it was the only run allowed by Jake Bray in 3 2/3 innings of relief.
Peter Bayer and Pat Krall combined for 2 1/3 scoreless innings down the stretch for Stockton.
The Ports and Rawhide play the middle game of their three-game set on Tuesday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Mitchell Jordan (4-4, 4.95 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by Visalia right-hander Shumpei Yoshikawa (1-2, 4.63 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.