The Bakersfield Blaze of 2014 separated themselves from the 2013 team in just one day, winning the opener over the Modesto Nuts, 9-5, on Tecate Thirsty Thursday at Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield.
A wild and woolly crowd got worked into a frenzy quickly, as the Blaze jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 1st. Ryan Wright singled - one of three hits on the night for the second baseman - and came around to score on a Kyle Waldrop 2-out knock.
The Nuts got their only lead of the game in the 2nd off Blaze starter James Allen (W, 1-0), scoring twice on a pair of hits, a walk, and an error.
But the Blaze grabbed the lead back in the home half of the frame, and never looked back. A Wright double did the damage in the 2nd inning, but the biggest blow of the night came in the 5th.
After a pair of scoreless frames, the Blaze finished off Nuts starter Ben Alsup (L, 0-1), who suffered his first defeat since June of 2013. With one out, and two on, veteran Marquez Smith launched an Alsup offering over the wall in left for his first homer of the year, and the Blaze went up comfortably, 6-2.
Junior Arias added a solo blast in the 6th, and a Juan Silva sacrifice fly and Chris Berset double plated two more in the 7th.
Modesto scored three meaningless runs in the 9th off Kyle McMyne, who followed Jacob Johnson's two scoreless frames and Ben Klimesh's easy 8th.
With the win, the Blaze improve to 7-6 all time in home openers against Modesto, and after opening 2013 with 8 straight losses, the 2014 Blaze look poised to hit the ball hard.
The series with Modesto continues on Fireworks Friday night (presented by ScholarShare and KGET-TV), with the Nuts Ryan Gibbard opposing Bakersfields' Drew Cisco in each player's Cal League debut.
Tickets are available, and the game can be heard live on TuneIn Radio, through BakersfieldBlaze.com, or locally on SmartTalk AM-1230 as the Friday Night Blaze Game of the Week. Dan Besbris has the call, with pregame show set to begin at 7:05, and first pitch scheduled for 7:15pm.
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