San Francisco Giants fans left Thurman Field with grins Friday night. Gregor Blanco, one of their former heroes, came up big for the Visalia Rawhide.
Blanco stroked three hits, stole three bases and drove in a run as the Rawhide – victim of a three-game Modesto sweep last weekend – responded with a hard-earned 5-4 victory.
Modesto (13-9) never led but kept fighting. Visalia (12-10), which pushed across two runs in the ninth to lead 5-3, encouraged a crowd of 3,729 when closer Bud Jeter opened the Modesto ninth by walking the bases loaded.
But Francisco Wawoe struck out and, after Logan Taylor’s sacrifice fly, Joey Curletta struck out to end it. Jeter picked up his sixth save.
Modesto reliever Matt Festa (1-1) yielded the tie-breaking runs on doubles by Francis Christy and Matt McPhearson and Galli Cribbs’ RBI squeeze.
Blanco, 33, was a member of World Series-winning teams for the Giants (2012-2014) but wasn’t re-signed after the 2016 season. Instead, he signed a minor-league contract in January with Arizona.
Ex-San Francisco Giant Gregor Blanco played a major role in the Visalia Rawhide’s victory Friday night over the Modesto Nuts.
An oblique injury slowed Blanco’s progress this spring, but he showed progress against Modesto as Visalia’s designated hitter. He singled and stole a base during Visalia’s two-run first off Nuts starter Pablo Lopez and singled home a run in the fifth.
Modesto, out-hit 10-6, broke through in the fourth when Curletta doubled home Braden Bishop. The Nuts drew even 3-3 in the sixth on Taylor’s solo homer to left-center and Chris Mariscal’s RBI single.
Visalia’s Kirby Bellow (2-0) was summoned from the bullpen after Mariscal’s single and induced an inning-inning double play. He pitched 2 2/3 innings of shutout relief.
Lopez allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings. The Nuts committed three errors.