MODESTO — The ninth inning jangled the nerve endings, but the Modesto Junior College Pirates hung on Thursday afternoon.
Relief pitcher Don Fairchilds allowed an unearned run but eventually got the final out as MJC defeated West Valley 2-1 its fourth straight victory at the Pirates' refurbished ballpark.
Modesto (5-3) led 2-0 in the ninth, courtesy of a two-out bases-loaded double in the first by Jake Scott. Fairchilds retired the first two batters before he yielded a single and an eventual RBI hit by Tyler Yeager. Nick McGrew's flyout to center ended it.
Starter Kevin Grimes went five innings and shut out West Valley (4-6) on three hits. Kevin Walker pitched 2º innings of shutout relief before he handed the ball to Fairchilds.
The Pirates ignited their rally when Patrick Mulry was hit by a pitch, followed by a walk to Gino Franceschetti and a single by Dan Carney. Scott doubled to right-center.
PIRATES BLANKED MJC was blanked 9-0 by defending state champion Fresno at the Pirates' courts in their opening Big 8 Conference match. No. 3 singles Austin Tay extended Joey Rivera before he fell 2-6,6-2, 10-8.
MJC FALLS Fresno (5-2) took charge with four first-inning runs and eventually beat the Pirates 11-2. Alex Delgadillo drove in both runs for Modesto (2-10) with a fourth-inning double. Mady Adams accounted for two of MJC's three hits.
PIRATES RUNNERS-UP A.J. Borges posted a 79 to lead MJC to a second-place finish during a three-team tournament at Chardonnay in Napa. Santa Rosa won with a 385, 23 strokes ahead of the Pirates.