MODESTO, Calif. - The Stockton Ports retired 15 of the final 16 Modesto Nuts batters of the game on Thursday afternoon, but Stockton's offense mustered just four hits on the day at John Thurman Field. Modesto scored three runs over the first three innings and it was enough to send the Ports to a 3-2 loss as the Nuts earned a split of the four-game set.
Braden Bishop opened the bottom of the first with an infield single off Ports starter Casey Meisner (1-3). Bishop went on to steal second and score on a two-out RBI single by Gianfranco Wawoe that gave the Nuts a 1-0 lead.
Modesto widened its lead in the third as Bishop led off with a double and Eric Filia followed with an infield single to put runners at the corners. Logan Taylor hit a sac-fly to center to make it 2-0 and, two batters later, Joey Curletta supplied a two-out RBI double to left that scored Filia and made it a 3-0 advantage.
Meisner would allow a single to open the fourth and was then lifted for Matt Sergey, who retired all six batters he faced and started the stretch of 15 of the final 16 batters set down to end the contest. Meisner suffered the loss, going three-plus innings and allowing three runs on seven hits.
Nuts starter Reggie McClain (3-0) kept the Ports out of the run column over the first three frames. In the fourth, Branden Cogswell opened the inning with a walk and Eli White followed with a groundrule double to left to put runners at second and third with nobody out. After Seth Brown popped out to the infield and Sean Murphy grounded back to the pitcher, it appeared as if the Ports might squander the scoring chance. Tyler Ramirez, though, would line a clutch two-out, two-run single to center that cut the Nuts lead to 3-2.
McClain, however, would escape further trouble in the inning and go on to finish strong as he notched the win, going 5.2 innings and allowing two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out three.
After the Ramirez single, the Ports would muster just one more hit the remainder of the game, a two-out infield single by Brown in the sixth. Spencer Herrmann pitched a scoreless inning-and-a-third for the Nuts and Matt Walker (SV, 1) pitched the final two innings to close out the game and earn the save. Walker pitched around a one-out walk issued to Murphy in the top of the ninth.
Stockton's pitching staff finished the game on a high note as well. Brett Graves took over for Sergey in the sixth and pitched three near-perfect innings. Graves retired the first six batters he faced before allowing a leadoff double to Bishop in the eighth. Bishop would get to third base with one out, but Graves notched back-to-back strikeouts of Taylor and Wawoe to escape unscathed.
The Ports return home on Friday to begin a seven-game homestand, beginning with a three-game series with the San Jose Giants. Angel Duno (2-0, 2.25 ERA) makes the start in the series opener for Stockton, opposed by Giants left-hander Conner Menez (1-0, 2.31 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. PDT.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.