Ports Edge River Cats In Scrimmage
Murray pitched well.
Murray pitched well.
Special Correspondent
Posted Apr 9, 2009


Stockton – In a game billed as the “Battle of the Champs” it was the hometown 2008 California League champion Stockton Ports who pulled out a 3-2 win over the visiting 2008 Pacific Coast League champion Sacramento River Cats in a game that wouldn’t be confused for a game that mattered.

With it being an exhibition game both teams were allowed an extra batter in the batting order, a pitcher took the mound for Sacramento who is on the Ports roster, and multiple innings ended without three outs being recorded.

Eric Patterson quickly jumped on the first pitch from Scott Mitchinson and lined a ball into right field for a base hit and would eventually steal second base before going no further. Mitchinson would respond by getting Cliff Pennington to swing and miss for his first strikeout of the evening and then used off-speed pitches to catch Sean Doolittle and Aaron Cunningham both looking to end the inning.

Gio Gonzalez took the hill for Sacramento and struggled with his control for most of his brief night as he walked leadoff hitter Michael Richard and then got down 2-0 in the count to Mike Affronti who made the most of a situation where the pitcher had to throw a strike by blasting a shot to deep left center for the first two runs of the game. Toddric Johnson would follow with a walk and work his way to third with a stolen base and pass ball but would end there as the inning came to an end with cleanup hitter Greg Dowling popping up for the first and only out recorded by Gonzalez in the first inning.

Gonzalez in his last inning of work gave up a four-pitch walk and a two-out RBI triple to Shane Keough before his first and only strikeout to end the second inning.

Sacramento, with the help of an error by the Ports, would score their two runs of the game in the second inning on a Chris Denorfia sacrifice fly and infield single by Matt Carson. Mitchinson tossed a perfect third inning and then struck out Doolittle to lead off the fourth before running into trouble with walks to Cunningham and Hannahan with a Barton single in-between but was helped by the inning ruled over with the bases loaded and just one out. He allowed just two singles in his final two innings while striking out three.

Derrick Gordon, who is listed on the Ports roster as being on the disabled list, pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Ports with a strikeout and a single allowed to Hannahan.

Stockton Ports pitcher Justin Murray was suited up like all the other River Cats and would pitch the final five innings looking like he belonged in that uniform for more than just that night. Murray retired the first five batters he faced as he allowed four hits and struck out three on the night. He also benefited by innings ending early as he twice had innings stopped with runners in scoring position with just two outs.

Jack Hannahan was the lone River Cat to have more than one hit as he went 2-for-2 with two singles, a walk and a run scored on a night where no other River Cat stood out at the plate or in the field.

Affronti’s first inning home run off of Gio Gonzalez was without a doubt the most impressive hit of the night but almost as impressive was the night by DH Shane Keough. Keough was the lone Stockton player with more than one hit on the night showing impressive speed on an RBI-triple off of Gonzalez in the second inning and then had a well hit single to right in the fifth inning off Murray.

Stockton will open their season tomorrow night in San Jose with Tyson Ross earning the Opening Day start against the Giants who will have Tim Alderson on the hill.

Sacramento will open their season at home Thursday night with Vince Mazzaro on the mound against the Tacoma Rainiers and Jason Vargas.



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