STOCKTON, Calif. - The 2017 season came to an end for the Stockton Ports on Friday night at Banner Island Ballpark. After winning the Second Half title and edging the Visalia Rawhide and San Jose Giants to earn a playoff berth, the Ports were swept out of the North Division Finals by the Modesto Nuts who took Game 3 by a final of 8-2. Modesto will advance to the California League Championship Series and take on either the Lancaster JetHawks or Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in a best-of-five series.
Modesto got off to a fast start on Friday night as, for a second straight night, they scored in the first inning. With a runner at second base and one out, Kyle Lewis lined an RBI single to center to give the Nuts a 1-0 lead. Lewis would score two batters later on an RBI single by Logan Taylor. With runners at the corners and two outs, Taylor would steal second and, Joe DeCarlo, the runner at third, would break for the plate and score as catcher Argenis Raga's throw was late, giving the Nuts a 3-0 lead.
The Nuts doubled their lead in the third inning. Lewis and Eric Filia opened the inning with back-to-back singles and DeCarlo followed with a three-run homer to right that ballooned the Nuts lead to 6-0. Ports starter Evan Manarino (0-1) would suffer the loss after allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits while striking out four in three innings.
Modesto starter Robert Dugger escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fourth inning and would allow his lone run in the fifth. With one out, Eli White doubled to left and scored two batters later on an RBI single by Skye Bolt to cut the Nuts lead to 6-1. Dugger would be lifted for Matt Walker (1-0), who struck out Seth Brown to end the inning. Dugger did not factor into the decision, going 4.2 innings and allowing one run on four hits while walking four and striking out five.
Walker would work into the seventh, where he gave up a solo home run to Bolt that brought Stockton to within four runs at 6-2. Walker would be lifted two batters later for Joe Pistorese, who got pinch-hitter Chris Iriart to fly out to end the inning. Walker would pick up the win after going two innings and allowing one run on three hits while striking out four.
After a combined four scoreless innings worked by Kyle Friedrichs and Armando Ruiz, Nolan Blackwood took over in the eighth and gave up a leadoff home run to Joey Curletta. Three batters later, Blackwood issued back-to-back walks and then gave up a double to Filia that gave the Nuts an 8-2 advantage. Blackwood would pitch one inning and allow two runs on two hits in his lone playoff outing.
The Ports open the 2018 season at home on April 5 versus the Lake Elsinore Storm. Season ticket and mini-plan packages are currently available by calling the Ports front office at (209) 644-1900.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.