Live From Stockton: Ports Play Two

Stockton, CA- Mr. Cub Ernie Banks is famous for coining the phrase, "Let's play two." On Wednesday night the Ports and Giants took his advice. The teams played two-seven inning games with a twist. The first game was a makeup of an April 12th rainout that was originally scheduled to be played in San Jose. This meant that the Ports would be the visiting team in their own ballpark.

This was the first time that the Ports were the visiting team at Banner Island Ballpark. San Jose came into the game with a 6.5 game lead over the Ports in the Cal-League North Division.

The Ports' bats continued to smolder in game one. Over the last nine games, the Ports are 6-3 while scoring at least five runs six times. Once the floodgates opened Stockton did not relent.

San Jose starter Anthony Moreno hurt himself by walking six batters, starting with a leadoff walk to Myron Leslie to lead off the second inning. After inducing a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Landon Powell, Gregorio Petit drove a solid single into left field before stealing second. Moreno suddenly couldn't find his arm slot and walked four straight Ports, forcing in two runs before getting Richie Robnett to ground out to third to end the threat. The Ports led 2-0.

The Ports had to swing to get their runs in the third. Leslie laced a one-out double to left-center field before Powell drove a solid single to center. Petit then delivered in an RBI situation by hitting a chopper through the five-hole to score Leslie and extend the lead to 3-0.

Ports starter Mike Madsen was successful in pitching to his defense throughout the game and minimized the damage that could have been caused by his two walks. Even the first run scored off of him was on a groundout.

Mike Madsen was the winning pitcher in Game One.

San Jose center fielder Joseph Dyche hit a double to lead off the Giants half of the third. Two groundouts later and San Jose put their first run on the board.

Stockton didn't take too kindly to the Giants scoring. Cliff Pennington drove a single into right to reach base for the third straight time to lead off the fourth and Moreno was replaced by southpaw Adam Gardner. He was rudely greeted by Luke Appert who sent his first pitch sailing onto the lawn beyond the right field fence for a two-run homer, Appert's fourth of the season and first off a lefty. Appert has been red-hot over the last ten games.

Not to be outdone, Robnett came to the plate and sent a shot to dead center that landed on top of the storage shed for his ninth of the season. The homer was almost identical to the one he hit Tuesday night. The inning ended with the score at 6-1.

Luke Appert launched his fourth homerun of the season.

Madsen allowed a double to left fielder Carlos Sosa to lead off the bottom of the fourth, but made a nice defensive play on a hard chopper up the middle off the bat of right fielder Brian Horwitz to keep Sosa from advancing. He buckled down to retire the next two batters on fly balls to Robnett in center and the threat was ended. Robnett appears to be more comfortable in center field after starting the season in right field, as he looks to be taking sharper routes to the ball.

The Ports weren't done supplying the run support. In the top of the sixth, more walks put both Appert and Robnett on with no outs. First baseman Tommy Everidge then singled to load the bases, bringing third baseman Myron Leslie to the plate. Leslie was 1-for-2 with a walk and a solid double at this point and had a chance to add some RBIs to his line. He delivered in a big way by driving a grand slam into the bullpens in left-center field. The Ports' lead was now 10-1 and the rest seemed academic.

Sosa notched another extra base hit with two outs in the 6th, tripling to off the fence in center. Horwitz then singled to right to drive him in. Both sides were done scoring at that point and the first game went to Stockton 10-2.

Game 2 proved to be a lower scoring affair and walks would this time be detrimental to Stockton.

The Ports had a chance to take the lead as the home team in the first when Cameron Coughlan led off with a single and then stole second with one out. The play at second would have been closer if catcher Stephen Holm had not double-pumped the throw. With a runner in scoring position and one out Robnett and Everidge were unable to drive Coughlan in.

Starter Trent Peterson allowed two walks with one out in the second. Sosa then singled to center driving in Simon Klink and the Giants took an early 1-0 lead.

Neither team would threaten again until the fourth when right fielder Michael Wagner took Peterson deep to right with one out. With the Giants up 2-0 and two outs, Peterson allowed a double to Pat Dobson before being replaced by Randy Rapp. Rapp got Holm to fly out to center to end the inning.

Everidge doubled with one out in the fourth before former big-league catcher and newcomer to Stockton Raul Casanova singled to right to drive in the Ports' first run. Casanova was behind the plate for the second game and was sporting his A's colors with green and gold catching gear. Casanova was signed to a minor league contract in the off-season, but he missed all of spring training and the first two months of the season with lower back problems. The Ports regular starting catcher Landon Powell, who is still recovering from a strained shoulder, was the DH for both games.

After the Giants extended the lead to 4-1 on a sac fly in the top of the sixth, the Ports tried to close the gap. Casanova singled with two outs before Powell doubled, advancing Casanova to third. The Giants brought in closer Brian Anderson to try to extinguish the flames. Anderson might be the best closer in the Cal-League now that former Port Marcus McBeth is throwing seeds in AA. Anderson had 12 saves in 12 opportunities coming into the game with a 1.07 ERA and 30 strike outs in 25.1 innings. He did what he did best, but not without a little drama. John McCurdy drew a walk to load the bases before Petit flew out to end the threat.

The Ports were not done with Anderson though. In the bottom of the seventh, Coughlan and Appert singled putting runners on first and second with no outs. Robnett struck out swinging, but Everidge picked him up by singling to left scoring the speedy Coughlan. With the score 4-2 Leslie then singled to load the bases with one out. Casanova came up in a big spot again.

Anderson issued his second walk of the game after allowing only five all season the score was 4-3 with one out and one of the Ports best offensive players coming up in Powell. Powell came up short this time though, grounding into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat and the game. One thing to look for in game four of the series tonight is how confident the Ports are against Anderson if he has a save opportunity. Teams gain confidence when they can get to any elite pitcher and that could mean the difference between taking the series three games to one to gain ground in the division and splitting it and remaining 6.5 games back.

Ports Offensive Standout: Myron Leslie gets the nod here. Though several players had big nights, Leslie went 4-for-7 with two runs, four RBIs, a grand slam, a double and a walk.

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