VISALIA, CA - For the second straight night, it was a big inning by Stockton that led the Ports to a win at Rawhide Ballpark. Tonight Stockton (35-21) used a five-run fourth en route to a 9-5 victory over the Rawhide.
Connor Grey had pitched well through three innings, allowing two runs on just two hits, but with one run in and two outs in the fourth, Luis Alejandro Basabe misplayed a grounder off the bat of Kevin Merrell. The error brought home a run and set up Nate Mondou for a three-run blast to right to cap the frame. At the time, Stockton led 7-3.
Grey (L, 4-3) was tagged for seven runs, only three of which were earned, over four innings. He struck out four and walked one.
Stockton starter Zack Erwin delivered a quality start for the Ports, holding the Rawhide to three runs on six hits over six innings. Erwin (W, 5-3) suffered a two-run double by Drew Ellis in the first and an RBI single by Daulton Varsho in the sixth, but struck out Ellis to end his night.
Through six, the Rawhide trailed 7-3, but Stockton rallied against Robby Sexton in the seventh as Jonah Heim and Will Toffey blasted back-to-back RBI doubles to put the Ports up 9-3.
Pavin Smith led off the bottom of the seventh inning by cranking a solo homer to right-center field, his sixth home run of the season and his third in the last four games. Smith also singled with one out in the ninth and was doubled home by Mark Karaviotis, but the Rawhide rally ended there as they fell 9-5.
Visalia (28-28) is back to the .500 mark for the first time since April 16, when they were just 6-6 on the young season. They now trail Stockton by 7 games with 14 contests remaining in the Cal League's first half. With a Ports win and a San Jose loss, Stockton's magic number to clinch the first-half championship now stands at ten games.
Smith, Basabe, Karaviotis, and Varsho all collected a pair of hits for the Rawhide while Ellis's two-run first-inning double gave him a team-high 35 RBIs this year. Karaviotis's two-hit night ended a prolonged slump that saw him go hitless for 17 at bats.
Tyler Mark and Miguel Aguilar both delivered perfect innings of the relief from the Visalia bullpen.
The Rawhide will look to salvage the third game of the series against Stockton tomorrow. Cal League ERA leader RHP Emilio Vargas (3-1, 1.41) will take the hill for the Rawhide against Stockton RHP Dustin Hurlbutt (1-0, 0.00). First pitch is at 6:00 PM and tickets are 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.