By Tim Fitzgerald
SAN RAFAEL, CA – Two Admirals pitchers who had only started so far this year closed out the series finale in San Rafael on Sunday afternoon for a 7-5 victory. Josh Evans and Player-Coach Roman Gomez pitched the final 2.2 innings for Vallejo (17-31, 2-7). They each made their first relief appearances of the season, and Gomez collected his first professional save.
Vallejo’s bullpen was its strength to start the season, but injuries, promotions, and a need to convert some relievers to starters have thinned the relief core. The Admirals ‘pen has been plagued by wildness, blowing several leads over the past week.
It did again on Sunday as the Admirals saw a 4-2 lead walk away in the eighth when Joe Watson struggled with command. But Evans came in to stop the bleeding with one out in the eighth, stuck around to pitch a scoreless ninth, and even hit for himself top of the 10th.
Gomez suggested Evans will probably return to the relief role he filled most of last season in Vallejo. Evans made just one start in his 23 appearances for the Admirals last season as a rookie, and the bullpen is where he’s needed most.
“With the addition of the new lefty, Brent Adheen, having Josh in the pen is huge,” Gomez said. “He is a solid arm that can keep us in games late. Josh doesn’t give in to hitters. He keeps the ball down and is a strike thrower. Being that he’s a converted cacher, he has a good feel for the game on the mound.”
Vallejo took the lead in the 10th, scoring three runs off San Rafael Closer J.R. Bunda. The Admirals are the only team to have scored off of Bunda more than once this season, getting to him for at least one run for the fourth time this year.
Tim Williams and Joe Hicks each singled with one out in the 10th inning, and Gerald Bautista was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Wilfredo Petit then hit a ground ball over the second-base bag for a two-RBI base hit. Aaron Brill followed that with an almost identical hit to plate Bautista for a 7-4 lead.
Gomez came into the game in the 10th after Robert Brown walked a batter and allowed a double. A run came in on a groundout by Zach Pace before the league’s leading hitter Chase Tucker drew a walk. But Gomez got the Pacific Association’s RBI leader Jake Taylor to ground out to short to end the game.
Gomez said it felt good to get his first save, and that, “he will do whatever it takes to help our team win.”
The Admirals will have a day off before beginning a three-game series in Pittsburg on Tuesday.