When the bases are loaded, the Modesto Nuts’ Correlle Prime likes his chances.
“A knock is two runs. A sacrifice fly is one,” said Prime, reciting baseball’s timeless math. “You just put it in play hard.”
Prime, the Nuts’ 6-foot-6 first baseman, did better than that. He swung on the first pitch he saw in the sixth inning from Visalia starter Blake Perry – Perry’s 88th and final pitch of the night – and sent it over the wall in left for a grand slam that shined even brighter than the postgame fireworks.
Prime’s bombshell all but delivered an important 8-5 win in front of 3,109 happy fans at Thurman Field on Saturday night.
“I had a tough time getting ready for that first pitch earlier in the season (with the bases loaded),” Prime said. “I’m more prepared for it now. I was geared up for everything.”
Prime’s slam, his third of the season, turned on a breaking ball by Perry (7-4), who walked two and hit Drew Weeks to gift-wrap the Modesto rally. The Nuts eventually batted around after Emerson Jimenez’s RBI single and lengthened their lead to 8-2.
That was enough to offset a late-game comeback by Visalia, which won the first two games of the series.
Modesto rallied from a 2-0 deficit and empowered starter Konner Wade, who shook off a shaky first inning and won his fourth consecutive start.
Wade (7-6), knowing the weary bullpen needed help, ground out 71/3 innings and 95 pitches on a warm night. Better still, he outlasted four consecutive first-inning hits by Visalia, all of them finding holes in the Modesto defense.
“I was able to keep us in the game,” Wade said. “I felt as good as I have all season, but sometimes you just have to wear it to get a few more outs.”
Modesto struggled for three innings, then began to solve Perry. Rosell Herrera, who walked, aggressively took third on Ryan McMahon’s single to right. Dillon Thomas continued his red-hot second half by slicing a two-run double into the left-field corner to draw Modesto even 2-2. Weeks, appearing in his ninth game for Modesto since his promotion from Asheville, pushed the Nuts in front 3-2 with a sacrifice fly to center after Thomas advanced on a wild pitch.
Weeks protected the lead in the fifth with his strong arm. He fielded Jamie Westbrook’s single in right and fired a dart to third to cut down Breland Almadova.
Modesto followed with its decisive sixth, though Visalia responded in the seventh on Mitch Haniger’s two-run homer off Wade.
The Nuts, sharp on defense all night, turned two double plays late in the game and denied one more chance by the Rawhide in the ninth. Visalia had the tying run at the plate before closer Matt Carasiti struck out Kevin Medrano on a 3-2 pitch and induced Westbrook (4 for 5) into a game-ending fielder’s choice.