MODESTO, CA - The Visalia Rawhide (69-71/33-37) held leads in both the ninth and tenth innings, but both times could not hold on and, on a throwing error by Henry Castillo, the Modesto Nuts (74-66/35-35) walked off to win the last game of the regular season. Both teams threw position players in the 11th inning with Ryan Scott (W, 1-0) throwing a scoreless frame for the Nuts and Jorge Flores (L, 0-1) earning the losing decision and failing to retire a hitter.
The Rawhide brought a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the tenth inning, but Keegan Long surrendered a leadoff double to Joey Curletta which, after Seth Spivey made a spectacular sliding catch at the wall in left, was followed by a run scoring single by Arturo Nieto. Three pitches later, Gianfranco Wawoe doubled up against the wall in left, but Spivey dropped the ball on the carom, which allowed Nieto to score from first and tie the game at three.
Visalia scored a run int he top of the tenth on a sacrifice fly by Matt Jones, but Colin Poche came on for the 11th and quickly gave up a single to Joe DeCarlo and a triple to Mariners thirteenth-ranked prospect Joe Rizzo, tying the game and putting the winning run on third. But Poche, after intentionally walking Joey Curletta, struck out two of the next three men and induced a popout from Wawoe to send the game to the 11th.
With the bases loaded against Flores in the bottom of the 11th and five men drawn in on the infield for Visalia, Donnie Walton hit a grounder up the middle that was fielded by Henry Castillo. Castillo spun around and threw the ball home, but it was wide to the right of catcher David Sopilka and, while Sopilka laid out on the ground with full extension, his foot lost contact with the plate and Jordan Cowan came home to score the winning run.
The game began as a pitcher's duel between Jon Duplantier and Joey Strain. Duplantier only set down the side in order once, but worked out of jams in the first and third innings while striking out nine over the outing. It was the third straight game, and the fourth time in his past five starts, that he reached his career-high of nine strikeouts and was the first time he'd allowed a run since facing San Jose on August 18, a streak spanning 14.2 innings. Strain went four innings and allowed only one run in the fourth when Jason Morozowski tripled high off the batter's eye in center field and was scored on a Grant Heyman groundout.
Morozowski also drove home Raymel Flores with a single to left in the fifth inning to, at the time, give the Rawhide a 2-0 lead.
Visalia finished the by losing three straight games, and five of their last six. They miss the playoffs and finish below the five-hundred mark for the first time since 2012. Modesto will go on to play Stockton in the California League North Division Series beginning on September 6.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.