STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Ports bullpen has been a strength all season, but it looked somewhat suspect on Sunday afternoon at Banner Island Ballpark. The Modesto Nuts scored a seven runs off the Ports' 'pen over the seventh and eighth innings as they salvaged the finale of a four-game series and earned a series split, beating the Ports by a final of 10-3.
Modesto opened the scoring in the second inning when Will Swanner hit a two-run homer off Ports starter Shaeffer Hall that gave the Nuts a 2-0 lead.
Stockton fired back with a pair of big flies in the last of the fourth. After Nuts starter Eddie Butler (2-1) retired the first nine batters to start his outing, Myrio Richard hit an opposite-field homer to open the fourth and cut the deficit to 2-1. After Addison Russell singled, Max Muncy hit a two-run homer to right, his sixth home run of the week, to give Stockton a 3-2 lead.
The three runs in the fourth would turn out to be the only runs scored by Stockton on the afternoon as Butler pitched the next three innings scoreless while allowing just two hits. Butler went on to receive the win, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out seven in seven innings pitched.
Modesto evened the score at 3-3 in the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Taylor Featherston off Hall. It was the final run allowed by Hall as he went on to receive a no-decision, tossing a season-high six innings and allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out three.
With the game knotted at 3-3, David Mota (0-1) came on from the Ports bullpen to start the seventh and hit Jose Rivera and walked Trevor Story to put two aboard. Mota was lifted for T.J. Walz, who had Brian Humphries reach on a bunt single that loaded the bases. Walz then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Rivera to score and break the tie. After Jared Simon was hit by a pitch, Ryan Casteel hit a two-run double to right that widened the Nuts lead to 6-3. Swanner followed with a sac-fly to right that made it a 7-3 ballgame.
Mota took the loss after being charged with the go-ahead runs. Walz came back to pitch the eighth and with two on and one out, yielded a three-run homer to Humphries that gave the Nuts a commanding 10-3 advantage. Walz allowed five runs on four hits over 1.1 innings of work.
Omar Duran, who was activated from the inactive list prior to the game, came on after the Humphries home run and retired all five batters he faced.
Stockton was kept out of the run column over the final two innings by Kenneth Roberts, who gave up two hits but did not allow a run as he finished the ballgame for the Nuts.
After going 5-2 on their seven-game homestand, the Ports hit the road for a seven-game Southern California road trip that will conclude the first half of the season. Stockton begins the trip with a three-game series at Inland Empire starting on Monday. Tanner Peters (7-3, 4.83 ERA) will make the start in the series opener for the Ports, opposed by 66ers right-hander Dan Reynolds (4-7, 6.44 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.