STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Ports took a late lead, but it was short-lived on Tuesday night at Banner Island Ballpark. The Ports grabbed their first lead of the game in the seventh only to see the Modesto Nuts score two runs in the eighth and hang on to hand Stockton a 4-3 loss in the second game of their three-game series.
Modesto opened the scoring in the first with back-to-back two-out hits, a double by Cal Raleigh followed by a single from Matt Sanders to take a 1-0 lead.
After threatening over the first three innings, the Ports would tie the score in the fourth when, with two on and two out, Robert Mullen delivered an RBI single to center field to make it a 1-1 contest. It was the only run allowed by Nuts starter Ian McKinney, who did not factor into the decision after going four innings and allowing five hits while walking three and striking out six.
Stockton starter Rafael Kelly worked into the fifth and gave up a one-out walk to Manny Pazos, at which point he was lifted for Pat Krall. With two outs, Krall gave up a triple to Joe Rizzo that scored Pazos and gave the Nuts a 2-1 lead. Kelly would not factor into the decision, going 4 1/3 innings and allowing two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out five. Krall pitched just two-thirds of an inning as he wrapped up the fifth.
Jharel Cotton took over for Stockton in the sixth on a Major League rehab assignment and would work two innings, retiring six of the seven batters he faced. The only batter Cotton didn't retire was Anthony Jimenez, who reached when Cotton dropped a pop-fly in front of the mound. Jimenez, after a steal of second and a throwing error on the throw down, was at third with one out. Cotton was able to record back-to-back strikeouts of Pazos and Johnny Adams to end the inning. Cotton threw 28 pitches, 21 for strikes.
The Ports tied the game once again in the bottom of the sixth facing Nuts reliever Jake Haberer. Jeremy Eierman doubled to open the inning and went to third on a fielder's choice throwing error as Haberer induced a comebacker to the mound off the bat of Trace Loehr and made an errant throw to third. Stockton would cash in as Jonah Bride delivered an RBI single to center field to make it a 2-2 contest.
Kyle Wilcox (1-1) took over for the Nuts in the bottom of the seventh and surrendered a one-out solo homer to Alfonso Rivas, his fourth of the season, that gave the Ports their first lead at 3-2. It was the only run allowed by Wilcox in two innings as he'd eventually pick up the win in the contest.
Nick Highberger (1-2) took over for Stockton in the top of the eighth and gave up a leadoff walk to Rizzo, an ensuing single to Connor Kopach and an RBI double to right to Raleigh that tied the game at 3-3. Later in the inning after a one-out intentional walk loaded the bases, Highberger issued a bases-loaded walk to Eugene Helder that brought in Kopach with the go-ahead run to make it a 4-3 game. Highberger would induce a double play to avoid further trouble in the inning but would suffer the loss after allowing two runs on two hits while walking two in his lone inning of work.
Joey Gerber (SV, 6) would work the ninth for the Nuts and pitch around a two-out infield single by Austin Beck, getting Rivas to fly out to left field to end the ballgame and notch his sixth save of the season.
The Ports and Nuts play the rubber game of their three-game series on Wednesday night at Banner Island Ballpark. James Kaprielian (1-0, 3.60 ERA) makes the start for Stockton, opposed by Modesto right-hander Austin Hutchison (1-5, 4.25 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.