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2023 California League playoffs coverage

Nuts pour it on offensively, roll to first Cal League title since 2017
Fourth-ranked Mariners prospect Colt Emerson hit .550 with eight RBIs in his first four professional postseason games. (Modesto Nuts)
September 20, 2023

Championship Series

Championship Series

Sept. 19

Nuts 14, Quakes 8
It's time to get Nuts!

Thanks to an unrelenting offense that averaged more than 10 runs per game in the playoffs, Single-A Modesto finished off a perfect postseason on Tuesday night with a championship-clinching 14-8 win over Rancho Cucamonga at LoanMart Field.

Colt Emerson led the way with four hits and four RBIs to power the Nuts to their first California League title since 2017. Modesto collected 17 hits and scored in six different innings en route to the franchise's 10th league championship and second as a Seattle affiliate.

Buoyed by a 16-game winning streak in August, Modesto captured the Cal League North Division crown with a 43-26 record and finished 77-55 overall, the second-best mark on the circuit behind Fresno (78-54). Full story

Sept. 17

Nuts 9, Quakes 2
This year's Draft picks have quickly made their impact felt in the Championship Series. Dodgers' second-rounder Jake Gelof launched two home runs for Rancho Cucamonga, but it was Jonny Farmelo (the 29th overall pick by the Mariners) who made the biggest impact in Game 1 at John Thurman Field.

Playing in his third professional game, Seattle's No. 9 prospect crushed a three-run homer to center field to highlight Modesto's nine-run fifth inning.

The Virginia prep star was far from the only recent Mariners Draft pick to make an impact, though. Fifth-rounder Brock Rodden and first-rounder Colt Emerson (SEA No. 4) paced the Nuts with two hits apiece, while 30th overall pick Tai Peete (SEA No. 10) came around to score after doubling.

Then 2022 eighth-rounder Tatem Levins effectively put the game out of reach with his full-count, two-out grand slam to right-center to cap off the team's scoring.

Gelof, the 15th-ranked Dodgers prospect, posted his first career multihomer game with solo homers in the third and sixth. The Quakes went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, thanks in part to Modesto pitchers registering 12 strikeouts (four apiece from Tyler Gough, Tyler Cleveland and Stefan Raeth). Box score


Sept. 15

Quakes 11, 66ers 6
The ball was flying early and often as Rancho Cucamonga sailed to victory over Inland Empire, advancing to the California League Championship Series in the process.

An eight-run second inning out of the Quakes featured four home runs, including two from first baseman Joe Vetrano. Vetrano, the Dodgers' 2023 fifth-round pick, tallied three hits and five RBIs -- both career highs. His performance boosted his postseason OPS to 1.273.

Dodgers No. 7 prospect Josue De Paula also came up clutch with a two-hit, three-RBI performance, including a homer. Rancho southpaw Garrett McDaniels earned the win, allowing one hit in three scoreless innings of relief.

Third baseman Cole Fontenelle led the way for the 66ers, tallying three hits -- including a home run -- and two RBIs. Box score

Sept. 14

Nuts 13, Giants 4
After needing extra innings to win Game 1, Modesto didn’t require any drama to finish off its sweep in the best-of-3 semifinals series.

The Nuts punched their ticket to the Championship Series with a 13-4 win over San Jose at Excite Ballpark behind a career-high five hits from Michael Arroyo.

Seattle’s No. 5 prospect, who only went yard three times over 60 games spanning two levels this year, teed off on a two-run homer to left field in the sixth. He singled four times, plated four runs and scored three more.

But he wasn't the only one filling up the score sheet, six Nuts had multiple hits. Fourth-ranked Mariners prospect Colt Emerson, the hero of Game 1, picked up three hits and three RBIs, while Tatem Levins added three knocks, two RBIs and two runs scored. Brock Rodden, Tai Peete (SEA No. 10) and Luis Suisbel (SEA No. 30) added two knocks and two runs apiece. Leadoff hitter Rodden, a 2023 fifth-round pick, also had two RBIs.

After spotting San Jose to a 4-0 lead after two innings, Modesto scored in every frame from the third to the seventh. But reliever Riley Davis limited the Giants to two hits over six scoreless innings to earn the win before Blake Townsend slammed the door.

The Nuts will face the winner of the Rancho Cucamonga-Inland Empire semifinals, with Game 1 of the Finals taking place Sunday at 8:05 p.m. ET in Modesto. Box score

Quakes 4, 66ers 3
Rancho Cucamonga’s dominant pitching forced a decisive Game 3 in the California League semifinals at LoanMart Field.

Starter Chris Campos and a parade of six relievers held Inland Empire to just three hits, shutting them out for seven innings until the 66ers rallied for three runs in the eighth.

The heart of the Quakes' lineup did its damage in the second and third times through the order. No. 15 Dodgers prospect Jake Gelof reached on an error and came around to score on a wild pitch in the fourth, while Jesus Galiz doubled and scored on Luis Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly. Thayron Liranzo (LAD No. 18) added a crucial insurance run on his 25th homer of the year before Rodriguez came through again with an RBI double later in the sixth.

In the first playoff appearance of his career, Zach Joyce pitched a perfect frame of relief for the 66ers.

The teams meet again Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET again in Rancho Cucamonga. Box score

Sept. 12

Nuts 6, Giants 5 (10 innings)
Just over two months removed from being selected 22nd overall in the MLB Draft, No. 4 Mariners prospect Colt Emerson found himself with a chance to win a playoff game. He made the most of it.

There were two outs, the bases were loaded, the game was tied and the 18-year-old shortstop had a 3-2 count. It was a peak pressure scenario and Emerson delivered, lining a single to deep center field to walk off Game 1 of the semifinals for Modesto.

The moment capped a game that was back and forth until the end. Up and down the lineup, Nuts hitters contributed. Emerson went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two walks, 12th-ranked Mariners prospect Lazaro Montes -- who posted a .994 OPS in the regular season -- launched a game-tying homer in the ninth, and No. 30 Mariners prospect Luis Suisbel plated a run.

Another newcomer also made a favorable impression in his first professional game. No. 9 Mariners prospect Jonny Farmelo singled in the fifth for his first career hit and followed it up with an RBI triple in the eighth.

Giants' No. 20 prospect Diego Velasquez and No. 29 Cole Foster tallied two hits apiece. Box score

66ers 3, Quakes 0
The formula that led Inland Empire to victory in Game 1 of the semifinals was simple: play situational baseball and dominate on the mound.

All three of the 66ers' runs came via sacrifice hits or on errors. No. 3 Angels prospect Nelson Rada was the only Inland Empire batter with a multihit game, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base.

Pitchers proved to be the real stars of the show. Right-hander Joel Hurtado allowed just one hit and struck out four over seven innings. The outing marked the first time in the 22-year-old's pro career that he took a start into the seventh, and just the third start this year in which he posted at least six scoreless innings.

Dodgers prospect Christian Romero kept the 66ers in the game. The 6-foot-3 righty allowed an unearned run on five hits without a walk and five strikeouts in five frames. Box score