BAKERSFIELD — Everyone wants to make opening day memorable, but the Modesto Nuts would do better to forget Thursday’s season-starter as soon as possible.
Bakersfield cracked two home runs among its 14 hits, and the Nuts committed two errors while running into four outs on the bases in dropping a 9-5 decision to the Blaze at Sam Lynn Ballpark.
Modesto starter Ben Alsup, who led the league with 13 wins last season, was hit hard by the Blaze, giving up six earned runs on eight hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out three batters, but recorded only two ground ball outs.
The Nuts led 2-1 after scoring twice in the second inning, but Modesto squandered a chance to have a huge inning by getting two runners thrown out on the bases.
Fresno State product Jordan Ribera lined a one-out single, but when Will Swanner followed with a single to center, Ribera was waved around third base and thrown out at the plate. After a walk to Derek Jones, Sean Dwyer singled to center to score Swanner, with Jones coming around to score on a throwing error. Jones made the third out of the inning trying to advance to third on the miscue.
Bakersfield made Modesto’s lone lead of the game short-lived, scoring twice in the bottom of the inning on a wild pitch and an RBI double by Ryan Wright. The Blaze poured it on from there, as Marquez Smith drilled a three-run homer in the fifth on the final pitch thrown by Alsup.
Tyler Gagnon, making the transition to the bullpen after winning 12 games and making 28 starts for Modesto last year, gave up three runs in 2 2/3 innings, including a solo home run in the sixth by Junior Arias that gave the home team a 7-2 lead.
In all, Bakersfield collected 14 hits, with right fielder Kyle Waldrop lining three singles. Swanner, Ribera, Dwyer and Trevor Story had two hits apiece for the Nuts, but Swanner, the returning catcher, came out of the game and was limping after absorbing a seventh-inning collision at home plate.
After this four-game series, Modesto stops in Visalia for three games before meeting Rancho Cucamonga in Thursday’s home opener.