On a warm, if comfortable evening at Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield, the Blaze scored five early runs, and held off the Modesto Nuts for the final six innings to grab the series finale by the final score of 5-2.
The offensive tale of the night took place very early, and featured smart baseball by the Blaze. In the bottom of the 1st inning, Blaze leadoff man Juan Perez doubled off the wall on the very first pitch, and a quality at-bat by Ryan Wright moved him to third. Kyle Waldrop then dumped a single into left field to score Perez, putting the Blaze up 1-0. The big swing in the inning, however, came just two pitches later, when Juan Silverio lined an 0-1 slider into the trees beyond the leftfield wall, putting Bakersfield up 3-0.
The Blaze added single runs in each of the next two innings. In the 2nd, Juan Duran drew a leadoff walk, reaching base for the first of four times in the game, and after stealing second, Duran was moved to third on a grounder. The Nuts brought the infield in, and Yovan Gonzalez sliced a single into center to score him. In the 3rd, Kyle Waldrop hit his third homer of the series, driving a slider over the wall in right to get Bakersfield its fifth run of the night off Modesto starter Ben Alsup (L, 3-3), all the runs the Blaze would get, and all they would need.
The pitching piece of the story was largely a man named James Allen (W, 2-4); the Blaze starter continued his recent run of reliability, going 6.2 innings while allowing just two runs on five hits while fanning five, as well. Allen was lifted in the 7th after his own fielding error allowed a runner to reach.
Pat Doyle entered, and picked up where Allen left off, setting down all four Nuts he faced through the 8th.
The Modesto pen was equally solid. After starter Ben Alsup was lifted (he went five innings), a trio of Nuts relievers - Kraig Sitton, Russell Brewer and Scott Oberg - each went a scoreless frame.
The game briefly got interesting in the 9th, as Blaze closer El'Hajj Muhammad (S, 2) allowed a leadoff walk and a one-out single, but retired the final two batters in the inning to wrap up the Blaze win on the night, and series win over Modesto.
The victory moves the Blaze to 11-27 on the season, and gives the team some momentum before they head out on the road.
Bakersfield has a scheduled off-day on Tuesday, but the team heads to Stockton for four games starting on Wednesday at 7:05pm. The Blaze will send Carlos Contreras to the hill in the opener of that set, and the fireballer will look to bounce back off a tough start against San Jose his last time out.
Make sure to keep tabs on your favorite club by listening to the live play by play broadcast online at BakersfieldBlaze.com, as Dan Besbris brings the call - the pregame show begins at 7:00pm.