For the first time since Thursday, the Stockton Ports and the High Desert Mavericks played only one game during the day. The first game of the team's four-game series on Thursday lasted 21-innings and was suspended after 14 innings on Thursday before resuming on Friday because of a California League curfew rule (no inning can begin after midnight). The Ports and Mavericks played seven more innings of the Thursday continuation game on Friday, meaning that they didn't start their regularly scheduled Friday night game until 9:30pm. Consequently, that game was also suspended by the curfew. This suspension came in the eighth inning.
Fortunately, the Ports and Mavericks were able to finish both the continuation game and the regularly scheduled game on Saturday, so there was only one game to be played on Sunday. Stockton sent righty Craig Italiano to the mound to try to avoid a four-game sweep by the Mavericks.
Italiano was inconsistent in his five-inning outing. He struck-out five and walked only two, but he allowed eight hits and five runs. He was relieved in the sixth inning by Steven Sharpe, who pitched 2.2 scoreless innings to give the Ports a chance to claw-back into the game.
After a slow start to the game, the Ports' offense came alive in the fifth inning when they scored two runs on a Jemile Weeks RBI double and a Raul Padron sacrifice fly. Weeks went 2-2 with three walks, an RBI and a stolen base in the game. He has a 10-game hitting streak and is batting .341 with 10 RBIs in 10 games with the Ports this season.
The Ports drew even closer in the sixth inning when they scored two runs on a David Thomas two-run homer. The homer came at a good time for Thomas, who had been hitless in the series before the big blow.
The game remained at 5-4 until the bottom of the eighth when the Ports mounted an unusual rally. Michael Richard was hit-by-a-pitch to start the inning. Thomas bunted into a force-out and Jermaine Mitchell struck-out to leave a runner at first and two-outs for Weeks. Weeks singled to move Thomas to third, bringing up Toddric Johnson. The Mavericks brought in their closer and former first-round pick Phillipe Aumont, who used his over-powering stuff to strike-out Johnson. However, the tying run would score on the swinging strike-three when the ball bounced off of catcher Travis Scott's glove. Scott retrieved the ball but appeared confused about where to throw and wound-up holding it while Thomas scored the tying run.
Unfortunately for Stockton, they were unable to maintain the momentum into the ninth inning. Leonardo Espinal, who had gotten the last out in the eighth, allowed a lead-off double. After intentionally walking the next hitter, Espinal struck-out a batter and then induced a force out to second base. With runners on the corners and two-outs, Espinal allowed the winning run on a wild pitch. The Mavericks would add an insurance run to get to the final score of 7-5.
Brandon Pullen allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning.
Frank Martinez legs out an infield hit.
David Thomas celebrates his two-run homer with manager Aaron Nieckula.
Steven Sharpe relieved Craig Italiano in the sixth.
Frank Martinez fouls a ball straight down.
Steven Sharpe threw 2.2 scoreless inning. He has a 0.00 ERA with Stockton.
David Thomas makes a terrific leaping catch in center.
Leonardo Espinal pitched the final 1.1 innings.
Phillipe Aumont pitched the final inning and a third and was the winning pitcher.
David Thomas scores the tying run on a wild pitch on a swinging strike three.
High Desert scored the winning run on a wild pitch.
Jemile Weeks makes a diving stop to end the ninth.
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In a series that involved two games suspended because of California League curfew and also featured a 21-inning game, it seemed only fitting that the series finale would involve a tying and winning run scoring on wild pitches. We have photos from the Stockton Ports' 7-5 loss to the High Desert Mavericks inside...
Stockton Photo Gallery: Ports Fall Late
Stockton claws back from five-run deficit but loses in the ninth.