The Stockton Ports used a mixture of power, speed, good pitching and clutch hitting to earn a thrilling, come-from-behind victory over the Visalia Oaks, 7-6, on Sunday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
The game got off to a strong start for the Stockton Ports when right-fielder Chris Carter launched his 34th homerun of the season off of Visalia starter Eddie Romero in the first inning. The blast gave Stockton an early 2-0 lead. Carter has homered in four consecutive games and he extended his Stockton franchise record for homers in a single season. Forty homers is within reach for the Las Vegas native.
Stockton starter Scott Moore was throwing well early and, for awhile, it looked as though the two runs would be all Moore would need to earn the win. The big right-hander worked 5.1 innings, striking out a season-high nine batters.
Moore's shutout evaporated in the fifth inning, however, when he allowed a two-run homer to Visalia right-fielder Greg Thomson. Moore would walk the first two batters of the sixth inning and, after striking out the final batter he faced, he was replaced by reliever James Heuser. Heuser worked his way out of the jam without damage in the sixth, but would run into trouble in the seventh.
The seventh inning began for Visalia with a bloop single off of the bat of Steve Mena. Evan Frey and Pedro Ciriaco would follow with singles to load the bases. Mark Hallberg hit a flyball to right that looked like a sacrifice fly off of the bat, but Carter made a very strong throw to the plate, keeping Mena at third. Peter Clifford would follow Hallberg with a walk, however, to break the 2-2 tie.
Heuser was then replaced by Pat Currin. The first batter Currin faced was Ed Easley, who hit a sacrifice fly to raise Visalia's lead to 4-2. Michael Mee then followed with a double that scored two runners. On the play, Mee would be out at third trying to stretch his double into a triple, ending the inning.
Down 6-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Stockton began to chip away immediately. Catcher Josh Donaldson, who is batting .394 as a member of the Ports, tripled to lead off the inning against reliever Josh Ellis. After a Corey Brown strike-out, Donaldson would score on an infield hit by Jermaine Mitchell. Mitchell then swiped second. Alex Valdez and Archie Gilbert followed with walks to load the bases and then Josh Horton narrowed the Visalia lead to 6-4 with a sacrifice fly.
After Currin worked a scoreless eighth, Stockton got the bottom of the inning going early when Carter walked to start the frame. After Matt Spencer struck-out swinging, Donaldson played hero by launching a long, game-tying homerun to left off of Kyler Newby. It was Donaldson's eighth homerun and 27th and 28th RBIs since joining the Ports in mid-July. His homer came only a few pitches after he hit a foul pop-up that was almost caught by Oaks' catcher Konrad Schmidt.
With the game tied heading into the ninth, Ports' closer Sam Demel came in and quickly shut-down Visalia. He induced a ground-out, then made a nice play on a bunt, and struck-out a batter.
Demel would be the winning pitcher when Stockton scored a run in the bottom of the ninth. Archie Gilbert began the inning with a flyball to center. With Josh Horton at the plate, Gilbert swiped second. Horton followed with a hard line-drive single to center that moved Gilbert to third. With the winning runner 90-feet away, second baseman Frank Martinez came-up big for the Ports, lining an opposite field single to left to score Gilbert and give Stockton the big win.
Below are photos from the game. All Photos by Chris Lockard/Scout.com
STOCKTON, CA - The Stockton Ports overcame a seventh inning, four-run deficit and beat the Visalia Oaks by a score of 7-6 with a walk-off run in the ninth. We have details and photos from the game inside...
Stockton Photo Gallery: Comeback Walk-Off Win
The Stockton Ports staged a late comeback and walked off winners over Visalia.