Wins have been hard to come by for the Stockton Ports over their rivals, the San Jose Giants, this season. At the start of the game on Saturday, it certainly didn't look like a win was in the offing for Stockton.
The Ports sent Daniel Haigwood to the mound to duel San Jose starter Paul Oseguera. Haigwood has been very good for Stockton since being sent down from Double-A Midland, but it wasn't his night on Saturday. The trouble started early for Haigwood, who allowed a lead-off double and quickly saw the Giants pile on the base-runners. Thanks to two errors, three hits, two walks and a wild pitch, Haigwood allowed four runs (one earned) in a long top-half of the first inning.
Stockton struck back in the bottom of the first when Toddric Johnson singled and Steve Kleen doubled. Johnson came around to score on Grant Desme's infield single, but the Ports were unable to tack on any more runs in the inning.
After a scoreless second inning, the teams traded runs in the third inning. Haigwood allowed a walk and then a two-run homer to Tyler Graham to start the fourth inning, bringing the score to 7-2 San Jose. Haigwood was replaced after the homerun by Jamie Richmond. The lefty allowed seven runs (four earned) in three-plus innings.
Richmond quickly changed the tone of the game from the Stockton perspective. He would retire all nine batters he would face, striking out five and giving the Ports a chance to come back in the game.
Come back they did. Stockton scored twice in the bottom of the fourth to draw within three runs. Then came the decisive fifth inning. Stockton loaded the bases on back-to-back singles by Desme and Yusuf Carter and a walk by Frank Martinez to start the fifth. After Kala Ka'aihue and Christian Vitters were unable to bring home a run, Dusty Coleman worked a controversial walk to drive-in a two-out run.
Both the Stockton and the San Jose coaching staffs were visibly upset with the umpiring crew throughout the series. Stockton manager Aaron Nieckula was ejected on Friday night and he had an extended discussion with homeplate umpire Bronson Martinez in the first inning when Haigwood appeared to be getting squeezed. In the fifth inning, it was San Jose manager Andy Skeels' turn to erupt. After Coleman's walk, Skeels engaged Martinez and base umpire Tony Gutierrez in a 10-minute argument that resulted in Skeels' ejection.
After Skeels left the game, Jermaine Mitchell provided the decisive blow. Mitchell hit a pop fly down the left-field line that Thomas Neal dove for but was unable to catch as it bounced on the line. All three runners would score, giving the Ports an 8-7 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
The Ports' bullpen ensured that the eight runs would hold up. Richmond tossed three perfect innings and then gave way to Derrick Gordon, who tossed a scoreless seventh. Jason Ray followed with a scoreless eighth. Closer Mickey Storey came on in the ninth and pitched out of a runner-on-third-with-one-out jam to earn his ninth save.
Stockton manager Aaron Nieckula has a discussion with umpire Bronson Martinez.
Paul Oseguera made the start for San Jose.
Ryan Lormand makes the throw to first.
Christian Vitters makes the flip to the pitcher for the out.
Brian Bocock steals second base.
Jamie Richmond threw three scoreless innings and got the win.
Ryan Lormond tries to turn two, but a run scores on the play.
Derrick Gordon tossed a scoreless frame.
Dusty Coleman makes a back-handed stop. He had several nice plays.
Jason Ray threw a scoreless eighth.
Coleman makes a strong, off-balanced throw.
Mickey Storey got the save.
The Ports celebrate a comeback win.
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STOCKTON - It didn't look good early for the Stockton Ports, who fell behind their rivals, the San Jose Giants, 7-2 by the fourth inning. However, the Ports' offense rallied and the bullpen was nearly unhittable as Stockton pulled out an improbable 8-7 win. We have photos from the game inside...
Stockton Photo Gallery: 'Pen Keys Comeback
The Stockton Ports used a big rally and a strong effort from their bullpen to earn a comeback win.