VISALIA, CA - The Stockton Ports batted around in the top of the sixth inning en route to a six-run frame and a 9-4 win to open the series at Rawhide Ballpark.
Visalia (28-27) had carried a 4-3 lead into the inning, built on a two-run homer by Dominic Miroglio, an RBI single by Miroglio, and a run scoring groundout by Drew Ellis. Rawhide starter Riley Smith had cruised through the third and fourth innings and minimized a two-out Ports rally to one run in the fifth.
Then Jonah Heim led off the sixth by hitting a solo shot into the Kids Corral beyond the right field wall and the wheels fell off for the Rawhide. The blast chased Smith, who delivered five innings and allowed four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts.
Then Austin Mason (L, 1-4) was summoned from the bullpen and struggled, as Stockton (34-21) tagged him for a pair of runs on three hits while he retired just one hitter. Mason left with two runners on base and Junior Garcia allowed both to score on a two-run triple by Nate Mondou to give Mason four earned runs on the night.
Mondou scored on a wild pitch by Garcia to make it a 9-4 Ports lead.
Garcia settled down and retired the next eight hitters he faced in succession, striking out seven of them. Jordan Watson delivered a perfect ninth with a strikeout of his own in his Rawhide debut.
Stockton starter Matt Milburn (W, 2-2) retired one hitter in the sixth inning before he was taken out of the game. He struck out a season-best eight hitters while allowing four runs on seven hits.
Luis Alejandro Basabe paced the Rawhide offense with three hits, including a double and a triple, while scoring a pair of runs. Miroglio homered and drove in three across a two-hit game while Ellis added a pair of singles and a RBI.
The Rawhide struck out 16 times as a team, a season high, and both clubs combined to strike out 30 times.
The Rawhide will continue their homestand against Stockton tomorrow, with RHP Connor Grey (4-2, 4.72) taking the hill for Visalia against Ports LHP Zack Erwin (4-3, 4.25). First pitch is at 7:00 PM and tickets are still 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.