VISALIA, CA (September 4th, 2013) -- The Nuts opened play in the California League playoffs with a 4-2 loss on the road in Visalia on Wednesday night.
Modesto now trails 1-0 in a best-of-three mini series with the Rawhide. Facing possible elimination, the Nuts will return home to host game two tomorrow night. Game three (if necessary) would take place at John Thurman Field on Friday. The winner of the Mini-Series will advance to play a best-of-five set with San Jose.
Nuts starter Tyler Anderson (0-1) gave the team seven strong innings, allowing three runs (two earned), but he was out-dueled by Visalia's Eddie McKiernan (1-0). Modesto managed only four scattered singles and a walk against McKiernan, who took a shutout into the seventh inning.
Trailing 3-0, Modesto put two on against McKiernan in the seventh, and Rawhide Manager Bill Plummer went to his bullpen and called upon Pat Schuster to face Jordan Ribera. Nuts Manager Fred Nelson countered by pinch-hitting Harold Riggins, who struck out looking. Schuster then got Matt Wessinger to ground out to end the threat.
Modesto made things interesting as they rallied for a pair of runs in the top of the eighth. Facing Kaleb Fleck, Tyler Massey singled to lead things off. Taylor Featherston followed with a single to center-field, with Evan Marzilli throwing wildly into third, allowing Massey to score. Featherston also advanced to third, and Brian Humphries followed with a sac-fly to make it 3-2.
Visalia got a run back in the bottom of the eighth on a sac-fly from Tom Belza. Bruce Kern took over to start the inning, and after giving up a pair of consecutive singles, he was replaced by Kraig Sitton. Sitton got David Peralta to ground out, but it advanced the runners to second and third to set up Belza's RBI.
Rawhide closer R.J. Hively came in the ninth and worked around a 2-out walk to Riggins to work a scoreless inning. He struck out the side to notch the save.
Visalia took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second as two walks and an error by Anderson loaded the bases, and Ronnie Freeman delivered with a 2-run single. Freeman led off the fifth with a single and scored the third Rawhide run on a sac-fly from Gerson Montilla.
In game two of the series, the Nuts will send RHP Chris Jensen (5-8, 4.55) to the mound vs. LHP Andrew Barbosa (11-9, 3.81). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.