STOCKTON, CA - Drew Ellis opened scoring for Visalia with a two-run homer in the fourth and Daulton Varsho added a solo shot of his own to start the sixth. The two blasts proved to be enough as the Rawhide won 5-2 to open the series in Stockton.
Visalia (32-29) got the scoring started in the fourth with four extra-base hits. Varsho led off with a triple, Ellis homered, and then Dominic Miroglio and Mark Karaviotis slugged back-to-back doubles to put the Rawhide up 3-0.
Varsho's sixth-inning homer made it a 4-0 game, though by that point Connor Grey had set the tone.
Grey (W, 5-4) established his breaking ball early and delivered a clutch start for Visalia, holding the Ports to one run on three hits over six solid innings. He walked four hitters but fanned six, the most hitters he has struck out since punching out a career-high 12 Ports batters in Stockton on April 19.
Grey had to work out of jams in each of his six frames, but left runners in scoring position four separate times. Nate Mondou and Skye Bolt reached on a walk and ground rule double respectively to start the sixth, but Grey bore down and struck out two of the next three hitters, allowing only Mondou to score from third on a groundout by Will Toffey.
Randall Delgado and Wei-Chieh Huang followed Grey by striking out the side in order in the seventh and eighth innings respectively. Combined, Rawhide pitchers struck out seven straight hitters, and eight of nine, between the sixth and eighth innings.
Ellis doubled to start the ninth and moved to third on a passed ball, allowing Pavin Smith to add to the Visalia lead by singling to make it 5-1.
Jordan Watson got a double play ball to erase a leadoff walk to Stockton's Jonah Heim, but then gave up a triple to Dairon Blanco and hit Luis Barrera.
With two outs and the tying run on deck, closer Tommy Eveld was summoned from the bullpen. Eveld (SV, 5) threw a wild pitch, allowing Blanco to score, but induced a groundout from Luke Persico to end the game.
Ports starter Zack Erwin pitched through the seventh despite laboring early. Erwin (5-4) was tagged for four runs on nine hits while striking out four and allowing a pair of homers.
Stockton (38-23) still has a magic number of four with nine games remaining.
The Rawhide will next turn to Cal League ERA leader RHP Emilio Vargas (4-1, 1.24) tomorrow evening for a critical start against Ports RHP Dustin Hurlbutt (1-1, 2.64). First pitch is at 7:10 PM and the live radio broadcast will be available on rawhidebaseball.com.
The Visalia Rawhide are a professional baseball team in the Class A Advanced California League and are the only professional sports team in Tulare and Kings counties. The team has been an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks since 2007 and is entering their 72nd year of play in 2018. The Rawhide renovated their home at Recreation Ballpark in 2009 and have since become the largest gathering of individuals in Tulare County, having set an attendance record for the seventh time in the past eight seasons in 2017. In 2018, the Rawhide look to continue their reputation for hosting competitive baseball while providing affordable family entertainment. To be a part of the 2018 Visalia Rawhide season, please contact the Visalia Rawhide Ticket Office at 559.732.4433, visit us online at rawhidebaseball.com, or follow us on Facebook (TheRawhide), Instagram (@VisaliaRawhide), and Twitter (@VisaliaRawhide).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.