Sports

Nuts win it in 9th

There's a new closer in town, and even though David Patton's first outing in that role for the Modesto Nuts wasn't a save situation, he showed the moxie to pick up right where the promoted Andrew Johnston left off.

Patton came on in a tie game with runners at second and third and one out in the eighth, and got the two outs to preserve the tie.

He then got credit for the win by holding Stockton scoreless in the ninth and watching as the Nuts pushed across a run for a 5-4 victory.

"You're going to have a lot of traffic out there when you're the closer, so you better learn how to pitch out of trouble, whether you're the one who caused it or not," said Modesto manager Jerry Weinstein, whose team salvaged the final game of the three-game set against the Ports and completed a 2-4 homestand.

The Nuts scratched out the winning run when Stockton reliever Sam Demel enticed Michael McKenry to sky a one-out popup in the middle of the infield. Demel appeared to have the pop under control, but moved away at the last moment as the ball fell for a single.

Jay Cox followed with his second double of the game to move McKenry to third base. Nick Haley was walked intentionally to load the bases and set up a possible double play, but newcomer Radames Nazario spoiled the strategy by hitting a 2-2 pitch to medium right field, deep enough to allow McKenry to scoot home with the game-winner.

Modesto starter Keith Weiser was strong over seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits, and left with a 4-2 lead.

Tommy Baumgardner entered to open the eighth, but the lefty retired only one of the five Stockton batters he faced, and gave up Jermaine Mitchell's bases-loaded double to left to tie the game.

That's when Patton (3-3) entered to get the final two outs.

"Tommy's a heck of a pitcher, and when they called my name when there were two of his runners on base I was happy to come in and do it," Patton said. "I've never been a regular closer, but I'm up for the challenge. It's the same mind-set. You want to get outs, you want to focus on doing what you do best -- just play baseball."

The Ports scored an unearned run in the first when Archie Gilbert walked -- the first free pass in five starts issued by Weiser. He was safe at second on the first of two errors by Daniel Mayora and scored on Matt Spencer's two-out single.

Weiser allowed three consecutive singles to open the fifth, but was able to limit the damage to one run as the Ports grabbed a 2-0 lead.

Modesto was hitting the ball well against Stockton starter Graham Godfrey, collecting two hits in the second, third and fourth innings, but had to wait until the fifth to break through.

With one out, Nazario singled to left, strolled to second when Travis Becktel walked, and scored on Mayora's single to left.

The Nuts tied the game 2-2 in the sixth when the other newcomer, Kane Simmons, led off with a double and scored on Matt Repec's third hit of the game, a single to right-center.

Weiser's chance to get the win came when the Nuts got two runs off Stockton reliever James Heuser in the seventh, with both scoring on Jason Van Kooten's pinch-hit single.

The two teams combined for 27 hits and also stranded an amazing 27 runners to cap a wildly offensive three-game series.

"We get 15 hits and five runs, and we had some opportunities when we really shot ourselves in the foot," Weinstein said. "We're swinging the bats and we're competitive one-through-nine every night. That takes its toll on the opposing pitchers."

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