By Tim Fitzgerald
Sonoma, CA – For most baseball teams it takes at least a few weeks for coaches, players and fans to figure out the identity or personality of a team. In just seven games, the Admirals appear to have established their identity as the “The Rally Admirals.”
For fifth time this season, Vallejo rallied back from a deficit of three or more runs to tie or take the lead.
Down 4-1 in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday night in Sonoma, Pedro Perez and Gerald Bautista hit one-out singles, followed by a four-pitch walk to Raul Navarro that loaded the bases. First baseman Lydell Moseby worked the count full in a long at bat, before ripping a double into the right center gap, driving in a pair of runs and bringing the Admirals within one.
“I was just trying to get on base to get the next man up to the plate,” Moseby said. “I knew the pitcher was throwing pretty hard, so I just wanted to hit something hard to the right side and it worked out for me.”
The throw back to the infield after Moseby’s double was errant, and Navarro missed a chance to score from third. But he would show some very aware base running during the next batter, when lead-off man Darian Sandford would swing and miss for a third strike. The ball was in the dirt, forcing former Admiral catcher, Mason Marioka, to throw to first to nab the speedy Sandford in order to complete the out. When Marioka threw to first, Navarro took off for home and tied the game at four apiece by sliding under the tag at the plate.
Tim Holmes worked out of a jam with two runners on in the bottom of the ninth, including issuing an intentional walk to Sonoma third baseman, Caleb Bryson, who had homered and singled in the game already while scoring two runs. It was a risky move since the on-deck hitter was designated hitter, Joel Carranza, who hit 19 home runs in the Pacific Association in 2014 — a record at the time.
But it was Carranza’s first game back in action since rejoining the Stompers after being released by Trois-Rivieres of the Canadian-American Association. Carranza had only hit .113 in 13 games with the Aigles before his release, while Bryson was hitting .321 with three home runs on the young season. Bryson hit 30 homers in the Pecos League last year as well, and was clearly the hotter hitter between he and Carranza. The gamble paid off, as Holmes added to his league-leading total in strikeouts, getting Carranza to swing and miss at strike three.
In the 10th inning the Admirals leading hitter, Jackson Valera, got the action started with a double off of the wall. Valera his hitting .519 through the first seven games, and the double was his team-leading fourth of the season.
Cyle Figueroa pinch ran for Valera, and a successful bunt by catcher, Wilfredo Petite, got Figueroa to third base with just one out. Manager, Mike Samuels, then pulled another trick from up his sleeve, when Perez and Figueroa executed a perfect suicide squeeze, putting the Admirals ahead 5-4. They did all of this against Sonoma reliever, Taylor Thurber, who had thwarted an Admirals comeback with four and third shutout innings in the second game of the 2016 season.
Former Redsox’s farmhand, Carlos Pinales, came in to pitch the bottom of the 10th for Vallejo. He gave up a one-out double to Marioka, who then advanced to third when home plate umpire called a balk. The Admirals issued another intentional walk, this time to Pacific Association rookie of the year in 2015, Mark Hurley, who had three hits on the night.
But Pinales would strike out the next two batters to seal the deal for the Admirals, who improved to 4-3, good for a first place tie after the first week of the season. Tim Holmes earned the win in relief while Pinales got the save.
Starting pitcher, Roman Gomez, had a much better outing in second start as an Admiral than in his debut. He went six innings Tuesday night, striking out four while walking none and only allowed three earned runs, providing the Admirals with the quality start they sorely needed.
“It felt good to have a quality start tonight,” Gomez said. “Just have to be more consistent, and get right back to work tomorrow. It’s all about the process”
Moseby has had a knack for coming up with clutch hits late in games this season while hitting .421 overall with seven RBIs and four runs scored. All of his RBIs, runs scored, and extra-base hits have come in the seventh inning or later, including three doubles and two triples by the 6’7″ first baseman.
“I’ve just been trying to stick to my approach and come through for the team,” Moseby said when asked about his late-inning heroics. “It just so happens I keep coming to the plate at the right times. I have to give my respect to the guys in front of me who’ve been getting on base and giving me the opportunities that I’ve had. This team is definitely starting to come together in a good way.”
The Admirals are back in action Wednesday night in Sonoma at 6 p.m. You can listen live to the game action by clicking on the “listen live” link at www.vallejoadmirals.com or via www.mixlr.com/vallejo-admirals and the mixlr.com app.