After dropping a 3-1 pitcher's duel in Game One, Modesto outlasted the Giants in a classic back-and-forth slugfest on Thursday night at John Thurman Field to even the series. The Nuts will host San Jose tomorrow to decide who will move on to play the Bakersfield Blaze in the best-of-five North Division Finals.
Trailing 7-6 in the sixth inning, Jared Clark hit a go-ahead 3-run double to put Modesto in front with their largest lead of the series. After giving up runs in four out of the first five innings, Modesto's bullpen locked down and allowed just one unearned run the rest of the way.
Geoff Parker (1-0) sent down the Giants in order in the top of the sixth, before Isaiah Froneberger tossed two scoreless to send the game to the ninth. Adam Jorgenson, attempting his first save since June 28th against Bakersfield, gave up one unearned run but got Alex Burg to popout to seal the win.
San Jose opened the game with a relentless attack against Nuts starter Josh Mueller, who exited with only one out in the second after giving up four runs on six hits. Adam Duvall plated the game's first run on an RBI single against Mueller, who escaped the first with only one run of damage after throwing 31 pitches. San Jose did not let up in the second, plating three runs on doubles by Jarrett Parker and Burg, with Carter Jurica capping the inning with an RBI single.
Rafael Ortega hit a one-out solo home run against Giants starter Kelvin Marte in the second, setting the tone for Modesto's resiliency on the night. After falling behind 4-1, Brett Tanos singled home Ortega to cut the deficit in half, and Tim Smalling gave Modesto their first lead with a 3-run homer to go on top 5-4.
Craig Bennigson took over for Mueller in the second, and kept the Giants off the board until they rallied to re-take the lead with two outs in the top of the fourth. After a four-pitch walk by Jurica, Joe Panik clubbed an RBI double that scraped the top of the fence in deep right center. Geoff Parker then came on, and gave up a go-ahead RBI single to Duvall as the Giants went back in front 7-5.
Marte lasted only three innings, with Shawn Sanford entering in the fourth. After working two scoreless, Sanford issued a lead-off walk to Juan Crousset to open the sixth. Dustin Garneau followed by hitting a bouncing ball up the middle, with Giants shortstop Joe Panik misplaying the ball, allowing Crousset to third on a fielding error. Delta Cleary Jr. followed with RBI double that brought Modesto within a run, as Dustin Garneau was thrown out at the plate attempting to tie the game.
San Jose then replaced Sanford with side-winding lefty Phil McCormick, who walked Rafael Ortega to put two on the bases. Giants Manager Andy Skeels promptly removed McCormick in favor of hard throwing righty Cody Hall. Brett Tanos came through with a line-drive into right-field, loading the bases for Clark. After striking out in his previous at-bat, Clark jumped on the first pitch and smoked it down the third-base line to clear the bases. McCormick (0-1) was charged with the loss.
The Giants rallied with two outs against Isaiah Froneberger in the top of the seventh, putting runners at the corners but the lefty struck out Bobby Haney to keep the Giants off the board for the second consecutive inning. After an easy 1-2-3 eighth, Froneberger gave way to Jorgenson. With one out in the ninth, Ricky Oropesa reached on a fielding-error by Tanos to open the door for the Giants. Two batters later, Jarrett Parker singled into right-field to score pinch-runner Chris Lofton, but Jorgenson quickly retired Burg to end the game.
It was Modesto's first victory over the Giants since last Friday, dropping the final three games of the season against San Jose over the weekend, and falling 3-1 to open the Mini-Series.
The Nuts will go for the series win on Friday night at John Thurman Field, with the chance to play in Bakersfield on Saturday in the opener of the North Division Finals. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. LHP Tyler Matzek will start for Modesto. San Jose has not released their starting pitcher. You can purchase tickets by calling (209) 572-HITS, or online at ModestoNuts.com.