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Nuts pummel Ports

The offensive philosophy Jerry Weinstein has employed in Modesto these last three seasons has not differed at all from the one he used to win 831 games in 23 seasons at Sacramento City College.

The Nuts run, they bunt, they hit-and-run, they take the extra base, they do everything possible to put pressure on opposing defenses.

And, occasionally, they just bludgeon the other team into submission, as Modesto did in Saturday's 9-4 victory over Stockton.

The Nuts collected 14 hits, including four from Jason Van Kooten, to improve their lead in the wild-card race over Visalia and Bakersfield to seven games with 33 games remaining.

The offensive output was remarkable in light of the one hit effort in Friday night's loss to the Ports.

"We were basically a no-show last night, even as their guy did a nice job," said Weinstein. "We were lethargic after getting home at 5 a.m. that morning (from Rancho Cucamonga.) But this is a resilient group and we came back with a great offensive night."

The constant pressure was there, as the Nuts put runners in scoring position in each of the second through eighth innings.

But it took a four-run sixth followed by a two-run seventh to put away the Ports, who entered the game on a four-game winning streak and left having lost for the 13th time in 17 games against Modesto this season.

Stockton grabbed a 4-3 lead with a four-run sixth inning against Modesto starter Ethan Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth, making his fourth start for the Nuts since being called up from low-A Asheville, cruised into the sixth with a three-hit shutout, and was pulled with two outs, three runs in and runners at the corners.

Austin Chambliss entered for Modesto and was greeted by a first-pitch RBI single off the bat of Christian Vitters, extending the Nuts' bullpen string of difficulty in retiring the first batter.

It appeared to be a big moment at the time, but Modesto's offense quickly made Stockton's rally moot.

The Nuts chased Stockton starter Pedro Figueroa in the bottom of the sixth, as Warren Schaeffer had a two-run single to put the Nuts back ahead and Hector Gomez added a two-run, two-out single for a 7-4 lead.

Catcher Austin Rauch, making his first start behind the plate for Modesto in the absence of Willin Rosario (wrist sprain,) drove in a seventh-inning run with an infield roller, and Schaeffer followed with his second RBI hit in as many innings to boost the margin to 9-5.

Van Kooten played a large role in Modesto's scoring, with a triple in the Nuts' two-run third, a single and a run in the fifth, and a double in the seventh. He completed the four-hit night with an infield single in the eighth.

"Today the hitters did a great job with plate discipline," Van Kooten said. "We've been working on being aggressive and jumping on fastballs early in the count instead of taking that pitch for a strike, then chasing off-speed pitches.

"It's been paying off the last week or two with more walks, longer at-bats and by getting into other teams' bullpens."

Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at bvanderbeek@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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