Smith delivers to close out homestand

Hernandez’s homer the difference in 5-3 win

By Vinnie Longo
Rawhide Baseball

VISALIA – Los Toros de Visalia needed a solid start to help lead the way for a series-ending win against the Stockton Ports and they turned to Riley Smith. As he has done so many times this season, he delivered.

After surrendering an unearned run in the top of the first, Smith (W, 6-5) buckled down and kept the Ports off the board for the remainder of his outing, going 6.1 innings while scattering ten Stockton hits.

He racked up four of his seven strikeouts in his final two frames of work and didn’t walk a Ports hitter. Smith left after giving up three straight singles to open up the seventh, the last of which resulted in Luis Silverio gunning down Cobie Vance trying to score from second. Breckin Williams relieved Smith and retired the next two men to strand two runners on base.

Smith has now won back-to-back starts for the first time this season and accounted for two of the three wins on the homestand for Visalia (55-59/18-26).

The Toros offense got clicking in the bottom of the second to erase the first-inning deficit on an RBI single by Silverio. Then Stockton starter Kyle Friedrichs balked with a runner on third to put Visalia up for good. Friedrichs (L, 1-2) only surrendered an additional unearned run in the fifth when Greg Deichmann whiffed on a fly ball to left, allowing Mark Karaviotis to score from first.

Ramon Hernandez took advantage of a second defensive mistake by Stockton (65-49/21-23) and put the game out of reach against the Ports bullpen in the sixth. Pavin Smith reached on an error by first baseman Luke Persico to lead off the inning. Two pitches later, Hernandez cleared the wall in straightaway center with his team-best 15th home run, putting los Toros up 5-1.

By the end of the game, it ended up being the critical swing of the night, as Stockton hopped on the board in the ninth. Carlos Bustamante had retired the first two hitters of the inning, but Collin Theroux swung and missed at a ball in the dirt that skidded to the backstop, allowing Theroux to reach to extend the game.

Santiago Chavez followed by crushing the next pitch into the netting over the left field wall to bring the Ports within a pair, 5-3. Bustamante then struck out Trace Loehr to end the game.

Hernandez finished with two hits, two runs driven in, and two runs scored. Pavin Smith also added a pair of hits, including a double, and scored twice.

With the win, Visalia closed out their best homestand since taking three games out of five against San Jose in early July.

Los Toros will take an off-day on Monday before hitting the road on Tuesday night in Lake Elsinore. Visalia will send RHP Jeff Bain (1-1, 4.09) to the hill against RHP Bryan Mitchell (0-1, 6.75). First pitch will be at 6 p.m. and the live radio broadcast will be available on

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