STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Ports jumped out to a quick lead on Thursday night, but the Modesto Nuts were quick to respond. After the Ports scored three runs in the first inning, Modesto took the lead for good in the second as Stockton fell in the opener of their four-game series with the Nuts by a final of 8-5.
Stockton loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the first inning and Nuts starter Tyler Gagnon walked Dusty Robinson to bring in the game's first run. Antonio Lamas followed with a two-run double to left that increased the Ports lead to 3-0 and put runners at second and third with nobody out. What followed would become a trend in the contest, however, as the Ports failed to score any additional runs in the inning, a precursor to Stockton going just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position on the night.
Modesto countered with four runs in the second off Ports starter Andres Avila (0-2). Jordan Ribera led off with a double and two batters later, Trevor Story reached on a bunt single. Ryan Casteel followed with an RBI single to right that put the Nuts on the board. Tim Smalling came up next and delivered a sac-fly to left to make it 3-2, and Brian Humphries followed with an RBI triple that tied the game at 3-3. Tyler Massey came up next and walked, putting runners at the corners with two outs. After the walk, Avila appeared to have picked off Massey at first base, but a balk was called that allowed Humphries to score and Massey to advance to second, giving Modesto a 4-3 advantage.
The Nuts widened their lead in the third on a two-run homer hit by Ribera that made it a 6-3 ballgame. Following the home run, Avila retired the next nine batters in a row to finish his outing. Avila took the loss, going five innings and allowing six runs on five hits while striking out five.
The Ports brought the game to within a run in the fourth inning. With two on and one out, Robinson brought in both baserunners with a double to right-center to cut the deficit to 6-5. The double knocked Gagnon from the game as the Nuts turned the ball over to Nick Schnaitmann (2-1). With runners at second and third and one out, Schnaitmann preserved the Nuts lead by striking out Lamas and getting Josh Whitaker to fly to center.
Gagnon would receive a no-decision, going 3.1 innings and allowing five runs on six hits while walking five and striking out one.
Schnaitmann would pitch 2.1 scoreless innings and earn the win, allowing one hit while striking out one.
The Nuts added to their lead in the sixth as Casteel hit a two-run homer off Ports reliever Jake Brown to make it 8-5. Brown went two innings and allowed two runs on three hits while striking out four.
Nelson Gonzalez, Kenneth Roberts, and Scott Oberg (SV, 5) combined for 3.1 scoreless innings down the stretch for the Nuts. Oberg, who struck out the side in the ninth, picked up his fifth save of the season.
Adam Rosales, playing for the second straight day with Stockton on Major League rehab, went 3-for-5 with a double and two infield singles.
The Ports and Nuts play the second game of their four-game set on Friday night at Banner Island Ballpark. Drew Granier (2-1, 3.60 ERA) heads to the mound for Stockton, opposed by Modesto left-hander Tyler Anderson (0-0, 2.08 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.