By: Thomas Gase (Times-Herald)
Often in the summer, film patrons will flock theaters to catch the latest blockbuster, most recent comedy or just a good drama. They’ll also go sometimes just to see the previews of other movies.
But while the Vallejo Admirals will attempt to flip the script once the second half of the Pacific Association season begins Tuesday, Friday night might have been a teaser for something they’d like to avoid.
A late comeback attempt wasn’t enough for Vallejo as it made four errors and looked shaky on defense in a 9-6 loss to San Rafael.
The game was the first in a three-game series this weekend at Wilson Park and the last series of the first half for both teams. The Sonoma Stompers have won the first half, while the Admirals are in last place at 11-26. With the win, third-place San Rafael improved to 16-21.
“We need to start catching the ball,” Admirals manager P.J. Phillips said. “We need to give our pitchers opportunities to pound the strike zone and feel confident about themselves. We kept fighting and the guys came together at the end, but we wouldn’t need to have come back if we had caught the ball at the start.”
Vallejo’s Nick Akins, who had a single and two walks Friday night, agreed with his coach.
“Our carelessness on defense needs to stop,” Akins said. “We seem to sometimes lose focus and that’s when other teams score runs on us.”
In the top of the first Akins seemed plenty focused against Pacifics’ starting pitcher Dakota Freese when he drove home David Kiriakos with an RBI single to make it 1-0 Admirals. Kiriakos had walked earlier in the inning and then moved to second on a single by Mike Blanke.
“I knew Freese has a pretty good hard fastball so I waited for that,” Akins said.
The lead was short lived, however as the Pacifics took back the lead in the top of the second with a two-out rally. Zach Goldstein singled and then scored on a double in the left field gap by Aaron Brill to make it 1-1 and Brill later scored on a double to left by Spencer Nielsen that made it 2-1.
Brill continued to have a good game in the top of the fourth as he singled off Vallejo starter Brent Adheen to left to drive in Brent Gillespie and make it 3-1.
The Pacifics continued to add to their lead in the fifth inning as Gillespie had an RBI single to score Jake Taylor. San Rafael made it 5-1 moments later on a fielder’s choice RBI by Goldstein. Goldstein finished with three hits.
Freese seemed to be in total control after the first inning. He eventually pitched six innings, giving up just four hits while striking out 10.
The Admirals tried to close the gap in the bottom of the fifth when Graylin Derke had an RBI double to left that plated Blanke, who had walked earlier in the inning. That made the score 5-2.
The score remained in the same until the top of the seventh when Michael Rizzitello had a double and then scored on a two-out single by Goldstein to make it 6-2. Brill continued his stellar offensive ways moments later when he collected his fourth hit of the game, a double off the right field wall to plate Goldstein and make it 7-2.
Despite trailing 8-2 after an RBI single by Cameron Monger, the Admirals fought back and finally gave its faithful a reason to clap their hands. In the bottom of the seventh they loaded the bases with nobody out and Brandon Williams drove home two runs with an RBI double to left to make it 8-4. Chris Fornaci had a sacrifice fly to make it 8-5 and a few moments later Vladimir Gomez had a bloop RBI single to center to make it 8-6. Gomez finished with two hits.
“We’re still trying to go out here and win ball games and we’re trying to be competitive,” Akins said. “We had a couple of good at bats tonight. The first half is almost over and we can’t do anything about it, but we need to have better at bats in the second half so we can run away with it.”
That was as close as the Admirals would get however, as Pacifics added another run on an error in the eighth inning to make the score 9-6, the eventual final.