Jayson Langfels wasn't looking for personal revenge as much as he wanted to pick up his teammate.
After closer Adam Jorgenson blew only his second save of the season, Langfels who had been hit by pitches twice in the game delivered a game-winning double in the 11th inning as Modesto defeated Lancaster 7-6.
Nothing has come easily for the Modesto Nuts this season, so there was no reason for that trend to change just to please the second-largest crowd in Modesto baseball history on hand to watch the Nuts play.
There were 5,413 fans in attendance at John Thurman Field and a few thousand more waiting outside the park waiting for the post-game fireworks. They had no idea what was happening in the game until the mighty roar that greeted Langfels' game-winning hit.
Juan Crousset led off the inning with a walk and was bunted to second by Helder Velazquez. Langfels then picked on a high 1-1 changeup and drilled it into left-center. Crousset scored with a slide, but the play wasn't close.
"I was looking for something away because I wasn't sure if they were going to come inside on me again," Langfels said. "I looked bad on the first changeup, and had it in the back of my mind that I'd be seeing another one. I just stayed back on it and put the barrel on it."
Mark Tracy homered and had a two-run double, while Kyle Parker also homered as the Nuts avoided a three-game sweep and maintained their second-half hold on first place in the California League's North Division.
The win appeared in the bank entering the ninth, with Modesto holding a 6-3 lead as Jorgenson took the mound. He's been the best closer in the league this season, going 16 for 17 in save opportunities and sporting a 0.37 ERA, having allowed only one earned run in 24ª innings.
But he was a little wild and a little high in the zone against the aggressive JetHawks, and allowed three runs on three hits and a walk, with Domingo Santana's two-out, two-run single to right tying the game 6-6.
From that point on, it became the goal of the Nuts to pick up their closer from his first bad outing of a remarkable season.
"Jorgenson is beyond spectacular and has been this entire season," Langfels said. "He's a tough guy, but Lancaster has a lot of tough guys to pitch to with a lot of good bats in the lineup. They have a long bus trip home now."
Jorge DeLeon, who allowed eight runs and didn't get out of the first inning last week in his start against Modesto, rebounded to take a 2-0 lead and a no-hitter into the fifth.
But he walked Dallas Tarleton to open the fifth before Crousset broke up the no-no with a double to left. Tracy clubbed the next pitch off the wall in center to tie the game.
Before the inning was over, Tracy scored with a clever slide to the back of the plate on Rafael Ortega's ground ball to first base and Delta Cleary Jr. added a sacrifice fly for a 4-2 lead.
Tracy's homer, his fifth in 26 games with Modesto, made it 5-2 in the sixth. After the JetHawks pushed across a run in the seventh off Nick Schnaitmann, Parker got the run back with a long homer to left-center.
The Nuts' defense, which had been solid all night, betrayed reliever Kurt Yacko, as infield errors put the Lancaster leadoff hitters on base in both the 10th and 11th innings. In both occasions Yacko (6-2) was able to get out of the innings without another runner reaching base, setting the table for Langfels to be the hero.
"The fans won't remember me, they'll remember this special team," Langfels said. "Baseball will always have its ups and downs and we were able to bounce back to get this big win and we'll take this one."
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2150. Follow him at twitter.com/modestobeek.
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