STOCKTON – With 20 games remaining in the regular season the Stockton Ports continue to find themselves with an influx of players who could potentially help Stockton win the California League championship for the first time since 2008.
By winning the first half of this season, Stockton qualified for this year’s playoffs. However, the Ports are four games below .500 in the second half despite defeating San Jose 3-2 Sunday night at Stockton Ballpark.
A crowd of 2,438 saw the Ports (23-27 second half, 67-53 overall) win back-to-back games for just the second time since mid-July. The Ports and have won just eight of their past 24 games.
Newcomer Viosergy Rosa may be just the player to carry the Ports to a championship after being signed as a free agent on Wednesday. In the game-deciding seventh inning, Rosa drew a bases-loaded walk to snap a 2-2 tie that produced the game-winning run.
Over his first five games with Stockton Rosa has batted .400 (8 for 20), with six runs, six RBI, two home runs, three doubles and six strikeouts. At age 28, his nine years in the minor leagues is two more than any other players on Stockton’s roster.
“It feels good to be back in the states and see a couple of guys I’ve played with,” said Rosa, who began this summer playing for Laguna of the Mexican League. “I’m enjoying it. I feel like I can help these guys get better as well, the same way that guys did with me. I’m passing the torch.”
Rosa spent the last two seasons with Double-A Midland starting Spring in the Mexican League where he wanted to improve his skill set. There, Rosa hit .311 before being re-signed by the Oakland A’s. He was originally drafted by Miami in the 29th round of the 2010 draft.
Sunday’s game started sketchy for Ports starter Kyle Friedrichs, who walked the bases loaded in the top of first by throwing 12 of first 17 pitches for balls. However, he induced a pop-up behind home plate before strikeouts to former Pacific player Gio Brusa and Bryce Johnson erased the threat.
The Ports’ bottom half of the first began bleak, but Stockton scored two runs when Chase Calabuig’s walk and Rosa’s double preceded a line-drive double by Edwin Diaz off the glove of San Jose third baseman Kelvin Beltre.
The Giants (17-33, 51-69) again left the bases packed in the third inning when Friedrichs induced a flyout to center. By then the Giants had left seven stranded runners. Friedrichs survived into the fourth inning but a solo home run by Bryce Johnson tied the game and Friedrichs was pulled in favor of Ty Damron.
Friedrichs allowed two runs on four hits, four walks while striking out six.
The Ports leave for a three-game series at Lancaster before returning Friday for a six-game homestand against Visalia and Modesto.