By Gabe Schapiro
Pittsburg, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (13-26, 2-3) and Pittsburg Diamonds (18-20, 3-2) engaged in their second pitchers duel in as many days, however this time the Diamonds would prevail, 3-2, Wednesday night, at City Park Field.
Runs, hits, and any kind of rally were few and far between, as starters David Dinelli and Jheyson Manzueta went to work. Both stifled the opposing hitters for most of the night, with Manzueta being ever-so-slightly better, ultimately earning the victory.
Dinelli took some time to settle in, however, and quickly found himself in a first inning jam. A walk, single, and hit by pitch loaded the bases with not outs for the dangerous Mike Taylor. Dinelli buckled down and limited the damage, inducing a double play ball that allowed just one run to score.
“He struggled a little bit in the first inning,” said manager Garry Templeton II, “but he was able to minimize and get out of it. After that he found his groove and was able to work through some things and get guys out.”
And found his groove he did. He would go on to toss up zeros over the next four frames, allowing just one hit over that span.
For a while, however, it looked like the one run lead might be all Manzueta needed. Through the fifth inning he had only allowed one hit for zero runs.
“He had his two-seamer working pretty well tonight,” said Templeton, “so he was able to run it in on our guys hands and miss some barrels. And he kept the ball down and was hitting the outside corner too, to keep guys honest. He did a good job, and he kept us off balance.”
Meanwhile, Pittsburg finally scratched across another run against Dinelli in the sixth. Jordan Hinshaw reached after being hit by a pitch, and once again it was Taylor up in the big spot. This time Taylor hit a line drive double into the right-center field gap, scoring Hinshaw from first, and giving the Diamonds the 2-0 lead.
Once again Dinelli limited the damage, getting a pop out and a routine fly ball to work out of the inning with Taylor stranded at second base, to end his night after six strong innings.
In the next half inning, the Admirals finally got on the board, and in doing so got Dinelli off the hook for a potential tough-luck loss.
Josh Wong and Chad Bunting led off the inning with a double and a single to put runners at the corners. Shortstop Leo Rodriguez then mishandled a potential double play ball, allowing Wong to score. Kyle Hayman got a bunt down, putting runners and second and third with one out. With Tyler Nordgren at the plate, Bunting bolted for home, seemingly disrupting Manzueta’s delivery. In doing so, he was called for a balk, allowing Bunting to score the tying run without a play.
In the next half inning, reliever Derrick Mitchell took over on the mound for Vallejo, and quickly ran into trouble.
Joe Lewis doubled to lead things off, and two batters later Rodriguez singled to put runners at the corners for Andrew Rubalcava. Rubalcava hit a chopper to the left of the mound, which Mitchell pounced on. Lewis charged home with contact, and despite having a play at the plate, Mitchell tossed to first, and seemed to immediately regret the decision. Lewis scored to allow Pittsburg to retake a 3-2 lead
“It’s just one of those plays where if you haven’t been in that situation a lot, you sometimes make the wrong decision,” said Templeton. “When you’re more experienced, maybe you make the right play there. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but it would’ve helped to keep us tied and give us a chance to push it to extra innings. It’s a mistake that guys make, but we’ll get over it and he’ll get over it.”
The Admirals were then tasked with getting the tying run across against the tough late inning duo of Clint Manzo and Steve Chapter. Vallejo had a base runner in each of the final two innings, and in the ninth had the tying run at second base with no outs. Chapter, however, struck out the next three hitters to end it, and earn his league leading 11th save.
Thankfully, baseball lets you quickly put tough losses behind you. They’ll be right back at it tonight at 7:00 PM, for the rubber match of this series against the Diamonds.