MODESTO, Calif. - Game 1 of the North Division Finals came down to one swing of the bat and it belonged to Jordan Cowan. Cowan, who hit just two home runs all season, hit a three-run homer off Stockton Ports reliever Angel Duno (0-1) who was pressed into emergency relief duty and it proved to be the game-winning hit as the Modesto Nuts handed Stockton a 4-3 loss to open their best-of-five series at John Thurman Field.
Modesto jumped on the board first as Eric Filia took Ports starter Logan Shore deep with two outs in the third to give the Nuts a 1-0 lead. Shore would pitch through the fourth inning but leave after the inning due to injury. With Joe DeCarlo at third base and two outs, Shore threw a pitch that bounced away from catcher Argenis Raga and DeCarlo came charging down the line. Shore covered home plate and applied the tag on a sliding DeCarlo to end the inning but in the process, may have injured his wrist.
Shore went four innings and allowed one run on three hits while striking out six. He threw 66 pitches in the contest.
Nuts starter Nathan Bannister (0-1) retired the first 12 batters he faced before allowing a leadoff single to Seth Brown in the fifth. Two batters later, Sandber Pimentel blasted a two-run homer to right that gave Stockton a 2-1 lead.
Duno took over for Shore to begin the fifth in an emergency relief spot and issued a leadoff walk followed by a single to left. Two batters later with two on and one out, Cowan delivered a three-run homer to right that vaulted Modesto in front 4-2. It would be Modesto's last hit of the contest. Kyle Friedrichs was summoned after the home run and set down all five batters he faced. John Gorman would pitch the final two innings for the Ports and not allow a hit while retiring six of the seven batters he faced.
Bannister would be lifted with one on and two out in the seventh as Jack Anderson came on and struck out Pimentel to end the inning. Joe Pistorese pitched the eighth and worked around a two-out walk issued to pinch-hitter Chris Iriart.
Matt Festa (SV, 1) would come on for the ninth and see Brett Siddall reach on a fielding error by first baseman Joey Curletta with one out. After Festa struck out Brown, Mikey White delivered an RBI single to left-center to score Siddall and cut the Nuts lead to 4-3. Festa, though, would get Pimentel to ground out on one pitch to end the contest as Stockton stranded the possible-tying run at first.
The Ports will try and pull even in the best-of-five series on Thursday night at John Thurman Field. Brandon Bailey makes the start for Stockton, opposed by Modesto left-hander Spencer Herrmann. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.