The Modesto Nuts took Game 1 of the best-of-five California League Championship Series, defeating Lancaster 13-4 at the Hangar on Tuesday night in Lancaster.
Game 2 is slated for Wednesday night at 6:35 with Game 3 to be played in Modesto on Friday at John Thurman Field beginning at 7:05 p.m. Games 3 and 4, if necessary, would be Saturday and Sunday.
The Nuts, who struggled with the bats down the stretch of the regular season, continued their hot hitting in the postseason. After scoring 23 runs in a three-game sweep of Stockton in the North Division series, the Nuts continued their offensive resurgence by banging out 11 hits, including seven for extra bases against the JetHawks
Modesto struck for four runs in the second when Donnie Walton, Joey Curletta and Joe Rizzo hit consecutive doubles to make it 2-0. Rizzo would come around to score on a two-run blast to center field by Luis Liberato.
After tacking on a run in the fourth on Rizzo’s solo blast, the Nuts added two in the fifth and six in the sixth to blow the game open.
Center fielder Kyle Lewis was 3 for 5 in the game with a triple and a pair of runs batted in, while Rizzo also was 3 for 5, with four RBIs. Curletta was 2 for 5 with three runs driven home.
Lost in the offensive explosion was starter Nathan Bannister. The 6-foot-3, 224-pound right-hander allowed just five hits and no walks in six innings of work. Of the 74 pitches Bannister threw, 51 were for strikes.
The Modesto Nuts are seeking their first California League championship. The Modesto A’s won a Cal League crown in 2004.