MODESTO, Calif. -
A tough start to the season for the Stockton Ports got tougher on Tuesday night at John Thurman Field. Trailing by one run for most of the game, the Ports failed to capitalize on scoring chances and went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. In all, the Ports left seven men on base in a frustrating 3-2 loss to the Modesto Nuts as the defending champs fell to 0-6 to start the season.
Modesto drew first blood in the bottom of the first. With two on and nobody out, Ports starter Tyson Ross (0-2) yielded a double to Jason Van Kooten. The two-bagger was followed by a two-run homer from Jay Cox, giving the Nuts an early 2-0 lead.
The Nuts scratched another run across in the second inning, although the frame could've been a lot worse for Ross. Modesto had the bases loaded with nobody out. Nine-hole hitter Warren Schaeffer hit into a 6-4-3 double play, giving Ross two key outs but also bringing a run home and giving the Nuts a 3-0 lead.
Ross allowed just the three runs in his 4.2 innings of work. Outside of yielding the home run to Cox, Ross pitched very well in a losing effort, allowing six hits while striking out two.
Nuts starter Joey Williamson had just one hiccup in his four innings of work. With two outs in the third, Shane Keough started a rally by drawing a walk. Todd Johnson followed with an RBI double to the gap in right-center, putting Stockton on the board for the first time. Johnson would reach third on a wild pitch, and come home when the ensuing batter Mike Affronti hit an infield single deep in the hole between third and short, bringing the Ports to within a run at 3-2.
Williamson would not qualify for the win as he did not go the required five innings. He allowed just the two runs on five hits while striking out two.
The rest of the night would be a series of frustrating events for the Boys from Banner Island. Stockton would get a two-out double from Greg Dowling in the fourth and strand him at second. In the fifth, the Ports would load the bases with just one out against Nuts reliever Austin Chambliss (1-0). Chambliss would get Matt Smith to hit into an inning-ending 3-6 double play to extinguish the threat.
Chambliss would pick up the win, going two innings and allowing two hits while striking out one.
In the seventh, the Ports had runners at first and second with one out with reliever Edgmer Escalona on the hill. Escalona would strike out Johnson and get Affronti to fly out to right to end the threat.
In the eighth, the Ports got a leadoff single from Smith, but could not score against Nuts reliever Matt Reynolds.
The silver lining in the dark clouds for Stockton once again came in the form of their relief pitching. Jon Hunton, Nick Walters, and Daniel Thomas combined for 3.1 scoreless innings of relief in the losing effort.
Modesto right-hander Craig Baker (SV, 4) earned his second save in as many nights, and his fourth in as many chances on the season.
Stockton and Modesto will conclude their three-game series with a matinee on Wednesday at John Thurman Field. Lefty Carlos Hernandez (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will head to the bump for the Ports, opposed by right-hander Connor Graham (1-0, 1.80 ERA). First pitch is set for 12:05 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.