By Gabe Schapiro
Sonoma, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (6-13) were outdueled by the Sonoma Stompers (11-8), 3-2, Friday night, at Arnold Field.
A contest that briefly looked like it could be a slugfest quickly turned into a pitchers duel. Starters Nick Flory and Paul Hvozdovic struggled out of the gate, but both settled down nicely, as all five of the games combined runs came in the first four frames
Unfortunately for the Admirals, despite their pitching staff throwing up zeros, and their defense throwing up several web gems, their offense ran out of steam late.
Shortstop Glenn Walker was Vallejo’s biggest difference maker, going three-for-four on the night, a run, an RBI, and several slick plays in the field.
He quickly got the ball rolling, leading off the game with a first-pitch line drive single up the middle. He promptly stole second base, and two batters late scored on another single up the middle, this time off of the bat of Aaron Brill.
The Admirals lead was short-lived, however, as Flory struggled with his control early.In the bottom half of the inning, three straight singles and a walk tied the game up at 1-1. Flory did well to limit the damage, working out of a bases loaded and no out jam with just the one run scoring.
Sonoma kept at it in the second inning.
Flory walked Taylor Eads to lead off the inning, which came back to bite him two hitters later. Matt Hibbert sent the second pitch he saw over the left field wall for a two-run home run.
“He was getting behind a lot,” said manager Garry Templeton II. “When he falls behind it makes things tough, because he has to throw balls that catch more of the plate, and a little higher in the zone, and that’s when he tends to get hit. That’s why he was getting touched up a little in the beginning.”
Fortunately for Vallejo, Flory buckled down from there, tossing three-and-two-thirds more scoreless innings to finish his night.
“There were some mechanical issues that coach Banks and Flory talked about, and he was able to work through them,” added Templeton. “Just coming a little side-to-side rather than driving through the mound and getting down hill. So he was able to make that adjustment and pitch himself out of some jams. He still kept the score down. With allowing just three runs we should be able to win that game.”
The three runs would be all that the Stompers could muster.
In the fourth, the Admirals rallied, making it a one run game.
After a quick first out, Tyger Pederson reached on an error. Two more walks loaded the bases, setting things up for the Admirals hot hand in Walker. He didn’t disappoint, coming through with this third hit of the night, a single to left, that scored Pederson, and made it 3-2.
“It’s good to see him get back on track and hit the ball hard,” said Templeton on his recently slumping shortstop. “Hopefully he can continue with that.”
Like Sonoma, Vallejo’s offense sputtered out from there. They hit several balls hard, but only managed two base runners over the last five innings. Stompers closer Sean Conroy faced the minimum in the eighth and ninth on the way to a two-inning save to end it.
“It’s always good to see us play a solid baseball game all the way around,” said Templeton after the tough loss. “Good defense, we were hitting the ball hard all night, they just weren’t finding holes and we weren’t getting timely hits. On the pitching side it was just a couple of mistakes. It’s good to see, we just have to do it every night. The consistency of being able to play at that level every night is where we’ve always struggled.”
The Admirals will look to start stringing some of those solid games together, as they head into game five of this six game set against Sonoma tonight. The action gets underway at 5:00 PM.