Matt Flemer would dearly love to pitch again against Lake Elsinore this season.
The Modesto Nuts’ righty has three starts against the Storm, resulting in three wins, including Tuesday night’s 6-1 victory at John Thurman Field.
And since this three-game series is the last time Lake Elsinore and Modesto appear on each other’s schedule, the only way for Flemer to see the Storm again would be in the California League Championship Series.
“Hopefully, right,” said Flemer, an El Cerrito native who pitched at the University of California. “We’re starting to turn it around and we’re starting to get big hits. Defensively we’re playing great and it’s nice to get team victories like this. I hope we can string together some more.”
If Flemer could find the same level of success against the rest of the league that he enjoys against the Storm, it would be a huge boost for Modesto’s second-half hopes.
Flemer, who allowed one run on seven hits over seven innings, is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA against Lake Elsinore, and 2-5. 6.08 against the rest of the league.
“I don’t know the reason, but I do know that’s three starts with pretty good success,” Flemer said. I know (catcher) Chris (O’Dowd) and I are on the same page when we pitch against these guys. My cutter has been a go-to pitch when I face them, and when I have my fastball and cutter going at the same time I can be tough.”
Flemer’s performance also gave the Nuts a boost, coming in the opener of a seven-game homestand that marks Modesto’s final home games of the first half. The Nuts went 11-19 in May, and opened June by getting outscored 15-3 in two losses in Stockton.
“That’s exactly what we needed,” said Nuts’ manager Don Sneddon. “Flem doesn’t overpower anybody but he knows how to battle and get you out of jams, like he did a couple times tonight. He knows how to play.”
Modesto collected hits in every inning, with Pat Valaika and Derek Jones collecting three hits apiece, but didn’t break open the game until the sixth.
The Nuts got a run in the third when O’Dowd’s two-out walk was followed by Valaika’s triple to left-center.
The Storm countered in the fifth with a run on three singles, but that was the only time Flemer or relievers Shane Broyles and Rayan Gonzalez allowed more than one hit in any inning. Gonzalez needed only 10 pitches to complete a three-strikeout ninth.
Modesto created some cushion with a three-run sixth, with Matt Wessinger’sline drive to left-center lost in the lights for a two-run triple. Jones followed with a single for a 4-1 lead.
David Kandilas completed the scoring with a two-run double in the eighth, insuring Flemer’s win.
The Modesto starters also have faced a different kind of pressure this season. Flemer (5-5) and Ben Alsup (0-7) are the last two members still standing from the five-man rotation that opened the season.
“This is unique for me,” Sneddon said. “In college you finish the season with the guys who were there at the start.
“They warned me about the revolving door, but if you pitch like the way Flemer did tonight you might not be here too long because you’ll be moving up. That would be a good thing.”