A see-saw affair for 6.5 innings rapidly went to pieces for the Bakersfield Blaze, as the Modesto Nuts scored six off the Blaze bullpen and ran away for a weird, sometimes-sloppy 11-8 victory on Wednesday night at John Thurman Field in Modesto.
Devin Burke and Drew Cisco got the starting nods, but neither would factor into the final decision, as the two starters more or less dealt equivalent nights.
The Blaze scored twice in the 1st on Beau Amaral and Zach Vincej singles, a pair of groundballs and a wild pitch, but Modesto came back with three in the home half for the first of five mid-game lead changes.
The second lead change came in the very next inning when Sebastian Elizalde and new Blaze Joe Hudson went back-to-back, putting the Blaze in front 4-3.
In the 4th, after Cisco had pitched out of a pair of jams, the Nuts finally got to him, plating two runs to grab the 5-4 edge, and Cisco was done after four.
Sean Lucas came on and was quite effective, going two scoreless innings of relief while the Blaze were busy retaking the lead. Marquez Smith hit his 25th homer of the year to begin the 6th to tie the game at five, and Jeff Gelalich singled home his former U.C.L.A. teammate, Amaral, in the 7th for a short-lived 6-5 edge.
But things came apart for Bakersfield after the stretch. El'Hajj Muhammad (L, 0-2) entered from the pen, and could not escape the inning, allowing four runs on five hits, and the Nuts went ahead 9-6.
And they weren't finished. Two more off Brian Pearl in the 8th pushed the lead to 11-6.
Bakersfield got two in the 9th on a walk, two infield singles, a pair of throwing errors and a groundball, but Bruce Kern picked up the slack for John Keck (W, 2-1), finishing the game on a grounder to secure the Modesto win.
The game, in all, featured 19 runs on 29 hits, but more importantly, 6 combined errors in a game played somewhat poorly on both sides. Modesto matched their season high in hits with 17, and the Blaze will look to bounce back in the series finale on Thursday and attempt to win the series in a rubber match battle of southpaws.
Wandy Peralta gets the call for Bakersfield, and suddenly surging Jayson Aquino for the Nuts in a 7:05pm start from John Thurman Field.
Dan Besbris has the call at BakersfieldBlaze.com and TuneIn Radio, with pregame show set to begin 5 minutes prior to first pitch.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.