California League Rookie of the Year Chris Carter is emerging as the Stockton Ports' Mr. September.
The 22-year-old third baseman went 2-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored Friday night as Stockton pounded the Modesto Nuts, 12-3, in the decisive game of their first-round playoff series at Banner Island Ballpark.
Carter, who led the circuit with 39 homers and 104 RBIs during the regular season, has carried his success into the playoffs.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Las Vegas native went 5-for-11 with two homers and eight RBIs during the three-game set to lift Stockton into a second-round matchup with defending champion San Jose.
"Playoffs mean a lot more than regular-season games and I'm just trying to do the best I can to win," Carter said. "I feel we have a pretty good chance [against San Jose]. We played them pretty well during the season and I think it's going to be a great series."
After going 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs in Wednesday's series-opening 6-5 loss, Carter delivered the key blow in Thursday's 7-6 victory with a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning.
"Hitting that ball was a big relief," he said. "There was a lot of tension going into that inning."
Carter was one of three Ports with three RBIs in Friday's clincher. He sparked a four-run third with a run-scoring groundout and ripped an RBI double to fuel a five-run fourth.
"Everybody is excited about the win tonight," he said. "All year long we played them close, so it was a relief to have a game like this."
Matthew Spencer plated Carter with a single in the third and added a two-run base hit in the fourth. Corey Brown launched a two-run homer, his first of the postseason, in the third and smacked an RBI single in the fourth as Stockton ran out to a 9-0 lead.
Staked to the early cushion, Graham Godfrey (1-0) held the Nuts at bay, yielding two runs on seven hits and two walks with two strikeouts over six innings.
Modesto's Aneury Rodriguez (0-1) didn't fare nearly as well in his first postseason start, surrendering four runs on seven hits with two strikeouts in 2 2/3 frames.
Jason Van Kooten tripled and belted a solo homer for the Nuts, who were eliminated in the opening round for the second straight year.