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Nuts clinch Cal League title with sweep of Quakes
Modesto Nuts Cal League title
The 2023 Modesto Nuts raise the California League Championship banner at LoanMart Field following their 14-8 title clinching victory over the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Tuesday night (Photo courtesy of the Modesto Nuts).

The Modesto Nuts are once again kings of the California League after completing a two-game sweep of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes with a 14-8 victory at LoanMart Field on Tuesday night. The win came after the Nuts cruised to a 9-2 victory in Game One of the championship series at John Thurman Field on Sunday.

“I am at a loss for words,” said first year manager Zach Vincej in his postgame speech in the locker room.

It is Modesto’s 10th California League championship in team history and their first since 2017. It’s also their second title won as an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners organization.

In Game One, the Nuts blew it open thanks to a fifth inning grand slam off the bat of catcher Tatem Levins. Also contributing to the blowout was 18-year-old Johnny Farmelo, one of this year’s first round draft picks by the Mariners, who smacked a three-run shot earlier in the innings. The only two runs scored by the Quakes came courtesy of a pair of solo home runs off the bat of Jake Gelof, the younger brother of Oakland Athletic rookie phenom Zack Gelof.

In Game Two, two of Seattle’s most highly touted prospects frustrated Rancho Cucamonga pitching. Landing at #4 and #5, respectively, on the Mariner’s top prospects list according to MLB Pipeline, Colt Emerson and Michael Arroyo combined for seven of Modesto’s 17 hits. 

Emerson’s four hits and four RBI were career highs in his young professional career of 18 games. The 18-year-old shortstop that was selected 22nd overall in July’s Draft hit safely in all four postseason games, going 11 for 20 (.550) with eight RBIs. As for 18-year-old Arroyo, he finished going 9 for 16 (.562) with seven RBI in Modesto’s four postseason games .

With the two-game sweep, the Nuts ended their year on a 38-9 over the last 47 games, which included a 16-game winning streak between August and September.

“What. A Run,” said pitcher Darren Bowen on X, the app formerly known as Twitter, after the game.

“So grateful for this team,” added reliever Blake Townsend. “Some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a baseball field.”

The Nuts punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 43-26 record in the Cal League North Division in the second half of the season. They finished with a 77-55 overall record.

“From spring training, day one, till all the way now, it was a long grind,” Vincej told his team ahead of their cider celebration. “Process. We worried about the process [and getting] one percent better every day. We do that all for this. This is what we do it for. Championships, winning ball games. That’s the standard. That’s the expectation in the Seattle Mariners organization every single year… I am so proud of everyone here.”