MODESTO, Calif. - Three separate times the Bakersfield Blaze put a runner at third base with fewer than two outs, and all three times, the club came away with nothing, and the Modesto Nuts scored twice late to win their fifth in a row, 3-1, over Bakersfield at John Thurman Field in Modesto.
The first of those chances came early, as Junior Arias doubled on the opening pitch, took third on a passed ball, and stood there as the next three Blaze failed to bring him home.
A slightly less juicy opportunity presented itself in the 2nd inning, when, with two outs, David Vidal doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch. He, too, was left.
Modesto got on the board first in the 5th inning, after Fabian Williamson and Ben Alsup (W, 11-8) exchanged four zeroes. Trevor Story led off the inning with a flyball double that fell exactly halfway between Kyle Waldrop and Arias in leftcenter, and scored one out later on a flyball single off the bat of Harold Riggins that dumped just inside the rightfield line.
The Blaze got even in the 6th, but once again missed a chance for far more. Juan Perez reached on an error to begin the frame, and scored from first on Arias's second double of the game. Juan Silva dropped a beautiful bunt single up the line, then stole second, and the Blaze had two runners in scoring position with nobody out.
Modesto opted to play the infield back, surrendering runs to get outs, but for the second time, the Blaze simply could not roll a groundball to the infield, and came up empty, leaving the inning with a tie score, and gritting their teeth in frustration.
The chances did not end there. Waldrop began the 7th with a double, and stole third with one out; once again, the Blaze could not get him home, and that was the last opportunity of the night.
Williamson left after seven strong innings, and Jimmy Moran, who had not allowed an earned run since July 1, had his streak snapped. A leadoff walk to Will Swanner was followed, with one out, by an intentional pass to Brian Humphries. With the outfield playing inexplicably deep, David Kandilas flared a single to left, scoring Swanner for the go-ahead run, and with two outs, Matt Wessinger collected an infield hit to plate Humphries.
At that point, Modesto led 3-1, and Scott Oberg (S, 29) rolled in from the pen for a quick 9th inning, grabbing his league-leading 29th save.
With no one to blame but themselves in a frustrating game, the Blaze will try to salvage one out of three on Sunday at 6:05pm behind James Allen. The Nuts will counter with former 1st round pick Tyler Anderson.
Make sure to tune in to check out the Blaze Sunday baseball action online only, as Dan Besbris brings the call live with the Blaze pregame show at 6:00pm. Head to BakersfieldBlaze.com and navigate to the Gameday Audio link for every pitch!
Information provided by the Bakersfield Blaze.