The Sacramento pitching staff may be struggling some at the moment, but there is nothing ailing the River Cats' offense. A day after scoring 10 runs in a losing effort, the River Cats scored eight times on 11 hits on Thursday. This time, that offensive explosion was more than enough to put Sacramento in the win column, as the River Cats beat the Salt Lake Bees, 8-3, to even their best-of-five series at 1-1. The series now moves to Salt Lake City.
A rehabbing Sean Gallagher got the start for Sacramento, and he looked every bit the part of a major league pitcher on Thursday. The 22-year-old right-hander threw five scoreless frames, allowing only three hits and two walks. He struck-out four.
Gallagher was relieved by 20-year-old Brett Anderson, who was promoted from Double-A Midland at the end of the regular season. Anderson, who was making his Triple-A debut, held his own against the advanced competition. The young lefty allowed three runs on six hits in four innings. He walked two and struck-out three. Anderson, who was the winning pitcher in the bronze medal game at the Beijing Olympics, was credited with the save.
The River Cats' offense was the story of the game, however. Led by Brooks Conrad's two homeruns, the River Cats blasted five longballs. In addition to Conrad, Chris Denorfia, Casey Rogowski and Donnie Murphy all went deep. Conrad drove-in three and Murphy drove home two. Jeff Baisley went 2-3 with a walk and he is now 6-7 with two walks in the series.
Stockton Stages Big Comeback; Set For Winner-Takes-All Game On Friday
It wasn't easy, but the Stockton Ports managed to even their best-of-three game series against the Modesto Nuts on Thursday by beating Modesto, 7-6. The Ports trailed 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, but chipped away with one in the fifth and three in the sixth to tie the game. Chris Carter's solo homerun in the seventh - his second in the series and 41st on the year - would be the game-winner.
Stockton starter Jason Glushon got off to a good start in the game, retiring the first six batters before running into trouble in the third. He allowed three runs in the third after two were already out. The Nuts would add another run off of Glushon in the fourth to extend their early lead to 4-1.
The Ports would cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth when Josh Donaldson blasted a solo homerun to left-center off of Nuts' starter Esmil Rogers. Modesto would answer Donaldson's blast with two runs in the fifth off of Stockton reliever Derrick Gordon. Those would be the last two runs Modesto would score.
Down 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Stockton would pull a run closer when Archie Gilbert hit an RBI force-out. Stockton would even the game in the bottom of the sixth with a three-run rally.
Matt Spencer got the rally started with a lead-off double that barely eluded the glove of Modesto first baseman Mike Paulk. After Donaldson grounded to second to move Spencer to third, Corey Brown drove home Spencer with a two-strike single through the hole between first and second. Brown would then advance to third on a soft single to right by Frank Martinez.
Martinez's single was the end of the line for Rogers, who would be charged with six runs in 5.1 innings. Rogers' replacement was Tommy Baumgardner, who immediately hit Jermaine Mitchell with a pitch to load the bases with one out. The next batter, Mike Massaro, hit a groundball to short that looked like a double-play ball. Massaro beat the throw to first in a very close play, however, and Brown scored to make it 6-5. Gilbert then followed with a swinging bunt that drove home Martinez and tied the game.
The tie would be broken in the bottom of the seventh with one mighty swing off of the bat of Carter. The homer was a line-shot to the opposite-field gap.
Stockton's bullpen ensured that Carter's homer was all the Ports would need. James Heuser worked 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball in relief of Gordon. Mike Benacka then followed with 1.2 scoreless innings to earn the win and Patrick Currin worked a 1-2-3 ninth to gain the save. Currin has worked three scoreless innings in the series already. There were two disputed calls in the ninth inning that led to the ejection of Modesto manager Jerry Weinstein with one out in the inning.
Stockton will take on Modesto again on Friday in a winner-takes-all game to decide who will face San Jose.
We have exclusive photos from the Stockton playoff game below. All photos by Chris Lockard/Scout.com.