The fireworks exploded above Thurman Field, leaving the fans oohing and ahhing and the Modesto Nuts more than grateful.
Why? Because the game had ended. No more ground balls to kick or popups to drop.
The Nuts committed eight errors, everything from whiffed line drives to wayward throws and everything in between, and gift-wrapped a 16-7 win for Bakersfield on Friday night.
Modesto’s first defensive play, a throwing error by second baseman Forrest Wall, was a harbinger. The Blaze rolled for nine first-inning runs, a 35-minute Modesto nightmare, and Wall finished the game with four errors. The Nuts, second-to-last in the California League in defense, added to that chart.
All the runs in the first inning were unearned and plated with two out. For the night, 13 of the 16 Bakersfield runs were unearned. If Bakersfield hit it, the Nuts missed it. A post-game scorer’s decision nearly upped the count to nine errors.
Later, the office door of manager Fred Ocasio was closed and barricaded by a trash can.
9Unearned runs scored by Bakersfield in first inning
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of a night like that,” said Nuts first baseman Collin Ferguson, who softened the blow with a two-run homer and four RBIs. “We spend a lot of time working on our defense before the game. I’d have to say that’s a first for us.”
Modesto, 4-8 vs. Bakersfield this season, chipped away at that nine-run anvil. Omar Carrizales and Wall struck for back-to-back inside-the-park home runs, an event arguably more rare than eight errors.
Carrizales, fifth in the league with his .313 average entering the game, looped a ball that short-hopped past diving rightfielder Austin Wilson. Carrizales skipped around the bases with time to spare.
Moments later, Wall drove one to the warning track in left center. The Blaze’s Braden Bishop dove and snared it, only to have it roll away from him after he hit the dirt. Wall kept running.
Ferguson’s two-run singled capped the rally in the fourth and Modesto closed to a respectable 9-5. Unfortunately for the Nuts, the mistakes continued.
“Everyone is out there trying as hard as they can. No one is making errors on purpose,” Ferguson said. “It was a tough night for us, but every guy puts hard work in so that kind of stuff doesn’t happen. Unforunately, it did tonight.”
Modesto starter Carlos Polanco (2-7) failed to escape the first inning for the second straight time against Bakersfield. The errors triggered everything, along with three walks and two-run hits by Gus Craig, Joe DeCarlo and Jay Baum.
Blaze lefty Eddie Campbell (9-5) became the league’s first nine-game winner, but Modesto reached him for eight hits and five earned runs. Regardless, his victory was assured after Bakersfield’s four-run seventh featuring more largesse by the Nuts.
It was a tough night for us, but every guy puts hard work in so that kind of stuff doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, it did tonight
Nuts first baseman Collin Ferguson
DeCarlo’s three-run homer in the ninth was overkill while the fans waited for fireworks.
Modesto is 1-5 vs. Bakersfield over the past nine days going into the weekend. The Nuts won’t be finished with their southern valley colleagues until they meet nine more times this month.
Notes – The Nuts’ Parker French, whose four-hit shutout over Stockton on Wednesday night was the first nine-inning complete game in the league this season, barely got to the finish line. His pitch-count ceiling is 95 to 100 pitches, and his game-ending strikeout of the Ports’ Seth Brown was No. 98. Ocasio said French, though the Nuts all but cemented a 5-0 win, was down to his last batter. ... The episode affirmed the power of the pitch-count. Only one Modesto pitcher has topped the 100-pitch level – Sam Howard, now at Double-A Hartford, while striking out 10 in eight innings on May 28. ...
Rockies pitchers Tyler Chatwood and Jake McGee both reported back to the big club after successful rehab outings this week in Modesto. Chatwood, who came up with the Angels when they had a club at Rancho Cucamonga (the Quakes are a Dodger affiliate today), was reminded of Thurman’s pitcher/friendly reputation. “The ball goes nowhere compared to there (Rancho Cucamonga),” Chatwood told purplerow.com. “Some balls were hit hit hard out there tonight and they didn’t go anywhere. It was pretty weird. But it was fun to come back here.” ...
The 2106 Cal League All-Star Game will be played at Visalia next June 20, 28 years to the day the game was last contested at Recreation Park. The game also will revert to an all-Cal League format after it joined with the Carolina League for a two-league classic. The game toggled between the East and West coasts in recent years.