By Gabe Schapiro
San Rafael, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (9-15) won a nail biter, outlasting the San Rafael Pacifics (11-11), 2-1, Sunday afternoon, at Albert Park.
Both starters were great, but Admirals hurler, Devon Ramirez, was just that much better. San Rafael’s’ Nick DeBarr racked up the strikeouts, but gave up hits in key moments, and his defense didn’t do him any favors. Ramirez, meanwhile, kept it simple and efficient. Backed by a superb defensive effort, it took him just 89 pitches to toss eight strong innings, surrendering one run on four hits and two walks, while striking out three.
Vallejo took the lead early, courtesy of some homegrown talent.
In the second inning, the Admirals got a pair of runners on base, thanks to an error and a walk. That set things up for Vallejo’s own, Tony Uyeno. The local product had made his professional baseball debut two days prior, but, despite making good contact, had yet to register his first hit.
With the opportunity to give the Admirals a big two-out run, Uyeno didn’t hesitate. He swung at the first pitch he saw, and sent a liner to right field, scoring Josh Wong from second.
“I went up there with a good approach,” said Uyeno. “I was looking first pitch fastball, got it, and made good contact. Getting that first hit felt great, and it felt like a long time coming.”
Vallejo made it a two-run game in the very next inning.
This time, it was Glenn Walker’s legs doing all of the heavy lifting, with some help from the Pacifics defense.
The speedy Walker led off the inning with a single that snuck between the first and second baseman. Some heads up base running got him to second base, after first baseman Matt Chavez airmailed a throw back to the pitcher following a pick off attempt. Despite the next three hitters being retired in order, Walker would come around to score after two wild pitches.
Armed with a two run lead, Ramirez went to work.
“I was just pounding the zone with my fastball,” said Ramirez. “We had an approach to pound inside, and to see if they could hit that first before we made any other adjustments, and luckily that worked for pretty much the whole game. I only had to throw three breaking balls all day.”
The lefty would make only one mistake on the day, coming in the fifth.
Entering the inning, he had only faced one over the minimum. After one quick out, catcher Ricky Gingras did some first pitch swinging of his own, sending it over the right center field wall for a solo home run.
Ramirez didn’t let that get to him, however, allowing just two more base runners over his last three innings of work.
“His fastball was working really well for him,” said manager Garry Templeton II. “He’s been working with [Demetrius] Banks, our pitching coach, and I think he’s starting to figure some things out. He’s embracing being a real pitcher, not just some guy out there throwing. He’s becoming a real pitcher and it’s fun to watch.”
The Admirals weren’t able to get much else going against DeBarr, but they didn’t need it.
Closer Bryan Escanio came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth. It took him just seven pitches to retire the side, with the final two outs coming via a beautifully turned 6-4-3 double play.
“Hopefully this win gets us back on the right track,” said Templeton. “It gives us something to be positive about on the off day. It allows us to just relax a little, and get back to how we were playing early in the season.”
“It gives us something to build off of,” added Ramirez. “We had a hard time figuring out how to get wins, and today I think it helped to see how to go about it. And now we can go down that path and start stacking some W’s together.”
After a day off today, Vallejo will look to bring that positive momentum with them to Pittsburg on Tuesday, as they begin a three-game set against the Diamonds. The action gets underway at 7:00 PM, with Demetrius Banks on the mound.