Jordan Cowan, who hit just two home runs in the regular season, delivered his second big blast of the postseason, a three-run shot to right in the 11th inning that lifted the Modesto Nuts to an 8-5 victory in Game 2 of the California League Championship Series.
With the win, Modesto takes a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series that shifts to John Thurman Field for Game 3 on Friday at 7:05 p.m.
A win Friday would give Modesto its first California League championship since it was an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics in 2004.
If necessary, games 3 and 4 would be played Saturday and Sunday in Modesto.
Cowan’s three-run bomb marked the second time he’s given the Nuts the lead in the playoffs. His three-run job in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the North Division Series turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead for Modesto, which would go on to sweep Stockton 3-0.
Modesto held a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth but Matthew Festa gave up an RBI single to Mylz Jones and a two-run double to Avery Romero that tied the score.
The JetHawks, who defeated Rancho Cucamonga in four games to reach the Cal League finals, had a chance to win the game in the 10th.
Hamlet Marte hit a ball up the middle that Nuts shortstop Donnie Walton was able to get a glove on. The ball trickled into center field and Sam Hilliard, trying to score from second, broke for home. Walton retrieved the ball and fired a strike to catcher Arturo Nieto, who applied the tag for the third out, sending the game to the 11th.
Eric Filia was 3 for 6 with three RBIs in the game, including a two-run homer in the third inning that gave Modesto a 2-1 lead. It was Filla’s second home run of the postseason.
Kyle Lewis, Walton and Joe Rizzo had two hits apiece for the Nuts.
Modesto starter Spencer Hermann went five innings, giving up two hits – a homer to Garrett Hampson in the first and a homer to Marte in the third – while walking two and striking out four.
Bryan Bonnell worked a perfect 11th to earn the save.
No official starter has been named for Modesto for Game 3 but Reggie McClain (12-9, 4.75) or Robert Dugger (2-5, 3.94) , both right-handers, are the likely candidates to get the ball from skipper Mitch Canham.