MODESTO, Calif. - The Stockton Ports outhit the Modesto Nuts on Saturday night at John Thurman Field, but it was clutch hits the Ports lacked. Stockton left nine runners stranded and went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position as they lost 5-3 to the Nuts. With the win, Modesto wrapped up its third straight second half championship in the North Division.
Modesto opened the scoring with three runs in the first inning. With two on and one out, Jared Simon hit a three-run homer to left off Ports starter Raul Alcatnara (5-5) to break the scoreless tie.
Stockton got a run back in the top of the second on a two-out double by Phil Pohl with Rashun Dixon at second base. Modesto, however, got the run back in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Taylor Featherston, putting their lead back to three runs at 4-1.
The Nuts added their final run in the third on back-to-back RBI doubles from Trevor Story and Will Swanner, stretching the lead to 5-1.
Alcantara would go on to retire the final seven batters he faced but go on to suffer the loss, going six innings and allowing five runs on nine hits while striking out seven.
Nuts starter Chris Jensen (5-8) retired seven in a row heading into the sixth inning, but was greeted in the inning with a leadoff single by Antonio Lamas. Stockton went on to load the bases with one out as Dixon came up and hit a double-play ball to second. Featherston's feed to Story at second base was off the mark, however, an error that allowed a run to score to make it 5-2. With the bases still loaded with one out, Wade Kirkland came up and hit into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double-play.
Jensen went six innings and allowing two runs on six hits while striking out six as he picked up the win in the contest.
Ryan Arrowood came on in relief to start the seventh and gave up a leadoff home run to Pohl that cut the Nuts lead to 5-3. Stockton, after back-to-back singles and a stolen base, would go on to put runners at second and third with nobody out, but Lamas popped out to second, Myrio Richard grounded to shallow third and Tony Thompson flew out to center to end the inning without any additional runs scoring.
Arrowood started the eighth but yielded a leadoff walk to B.A Vollmuth, at which point Patrick Johnson was brought on in relief. Johnson gave up a single to Dixon to put two aboard. After Kirkland flew out to deep left to advance the runners to second and third with one out, Pohl struck out swinging and Dusty Robinson flew to left to end the frame.
Bruce Kern (SV, 2) set the side down in order in the ninth with three groundouts to pick up his second save of the season.
David Mota tossed two perfect innings in relief of Alcantara while recording two strikeouts for Stockton.
The Ports and Nuts play the third game of their four-game set on Sunday night at John Thurman Field. Josh Bowman (6-6, 5.69 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by Modesto right-hander Tyler Gagnon (12-9, 5.20 ERA). First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. PDT.