Nuts beat Visalia with walkoff walk in 10th

The Modesto Nuts' Yency Almonte is Cal League Pitcher Of The Week

The Modesto Nuts' Yency
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The Modesto Nuts' Yency

Say this about the Modesto Nuts: They’re giving fans a full return on their ticket.

The Nuts trudged into extra innings for the 13th time, the most in the California League, Wednesday night. They haven’t been particularly good after the ninth, given their 4-9 record.

They improved on those numbers, however, after Shane Hoelscher accepted a four-pitch bases-loaded walk for a 5-4 win in 10 innings over the Visalia Rawhide. Hoelscher, the former Rice University star, also notched Modesto’s first two runs with a 400-foot homer to left-center in the fourth.

“It’s been a year where we haven’t gotten a lot of breaks,” Hoelscher said. “We’re not giving up on both sides of the ball, and that’s a good thing. It’s not like we’re throwing in the towel, knowing what our season is.”

Modesto (43-67) trails Bakersfield by six games in the North Division with 30 games left in the second half. The Nuts are light years – 17 games to be exact – off the pace in the wild card standings, so catching the Blaze is their best shot.

13Extra-inning games by the Modesto Nuts this season

Hoelscher’s words aside, a couple of bounces went Modesto’s way to avert a three-game Visalia sweep.

Emerson Jimenez opened the 10th with a well-struck ball that caromed off the foot of reliever Myles Smith (1-2) and past diving second baseman Henry Castillo into center. Omar Carrizales’ sacrifice left everyone safe when Visalia catcher Michael Perez threw off-target to second. Forrest Wall’s perfect bunt loaded the bases with no one out. Drew Weeks struck out, but Hoelscher soon took his walkoff pass.

Modesto could have made this much easier. The Nuts pushed aside their 2-9 record vs. Visalia entering the game by dominating the first six innings. Lefty Jack Wynkoop logged nothing but zeroes, and a four-run fourth seemed to be plenty.

The Nuts didn’t stop with Hoelscher’s bomb off Visalia starter Brad Keller. A textbook double steal – Dom Nunez racing home after Collin Ferguson sped to second – and Max White’s RBI hit upped the lead to 4-0.

It’s been a year where we haven’t gotten a lot of breaks. We’re not giving up on both sides of the ball, and that’s a good thing. It’s not like we’re throwing in the towel, knowing what our season is

Shane Hoelscher

Reliever Logan Cozart struggled and the Rawhide rallied to tie in the eighth, aided by a two-run error when Victor Reyes’ single bounced underneath White’s glove in left.

Troy Neiman limited the damage with two shutout innings. Luis Niebla (2-1) pitched the 10th for the win.

Notes – Yency Almonte’s three wins in his last three starts did not go unnoticed. The hard-throwing right-hander (8-8, 3.40) was named the Cal League’s Pitcher of the Week. His high-90’s fastball has produced 132 strikeouts, the most in Minor League Baseball. “It’s an honor, more like a blessing, to know that my hard work is paying off,” Almonte said. He will start Friday night at Lancaster. ...When lefty Matt Reynolds made two appearances last week for the San Francisco Giants, he made local history. Reynolds, now back with the Sacramento River Cats, became the first Modesto Nut to play for San Francisco. He went 5-3 with a 1.29 ERA in 39 appearances for Modesto in 2009. ... Ryan Castellani (5-8, 4.17) starts for the Nuts on Thursday night at Lancaster, the South Division second-half leader. It’s the beginning of a four-game series.

Ron Agostini: 209-578-2302, @ModBeeSports