MODESTO, Calif.- The Stockton Ports closed out the first half of the 2019 season with a resounding win over the Modesto Nuts on Sunday afternoon at John Thurman Field. The Boys of Banner Island scored eight runs in the second inning and got strong outings from A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo (1-0) as the Ports rolled to a 10-2 win over the Nuts, taking four of five in the series and capping off a stretch to end the first half in which they won 14 of their final 17 games.
Modesto opened the scoring in the bottom of the first as Cal Raleigh hit a solo home run off Puk to give the Nuts a 1-0 lead. It was the only run and only hit allowed by Puk in his two innings of work as he walked one and struck out three. He threw 30 pitches, 20 for strikes.
After Stockton was held scoreless in the first inning by Nuts opener Penn Murfee, Ray Kerr (1-4) took over in the second and recorded just one out as he retired the first batter he faced. The next eight batters proceeded to reach base as Trace Loehr singled, Jeremy Eierman walked and both were driven in on a two-run double by Jonah Bride that gave the Ports a 2-1 lead. Robert Mullen followed with an RBI single to left to make it 3-1. After Nick Allen walked, Jameson Hannah reached base on a fielder's choice throwing error committed by third baseman Jake Scheiner that allowed a fourth run to score. Austin Beck came up next and hit a two-run double to right-center to extend his hit streak to nine games and chase Kerr from the contest. J.T. Salter took over and gave up an RBI double to Alfonso Rivas and, two batters later, surrendered an RBI single to Loehr that stretched the Stockton lead to 8-1.
Kerr suffered the loss after allowing seven runs (six earned) on four hits in a third of an inning. The eight runs in the frame marked the most runs scored by the Ports in an inning this season.
Stockton added two more runs in the fourth facing Salter on an RBI double by Eierman and an RBI single by Mullen to extend the lead to 10-1. Salter allowed three runs on four hits over two innings worked.
After Puk worked the first two innings for Stockton, Luzardo took over in the third and proceeded to work four strong frames, allowing a solo home run to Connor Kopach with two outs in the fifth. The home run was one of four hits scattered by Luzardo who did not walk a batter while striking out nine. Luzardo earned the win in the contest as he threw 52 pitches, 38 for strikes.
Seth Martinez pitched two scoreless innings beginning in the seventh and Will Gilbert closed out the game with a scoreless ninth, working around a leadoff double and collecting two strikeouts.
Matthew Willrodt worked 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief for Modesto and allowed just two hits in his outing. Nick Duron pitched around back-to-back singles that opened the ninth and kept Stockton out of the run column in his lone inning of work.
After finishing the first half with a record of 33-35, the Ports open the second half of the season on Thursday at Banner Island Ballpark following the All-Star break that runs Monday-Wednesday. On Thursday, Xavier Altamirano (2-3, 4.08 ERA) is scheduled to start the opener of a four-game series with the San Jose Giants. San Jose has right-hander Matt Frisbee (2-5, 4.01 ERA) scheduled to start the contest. 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.