By Gabe Schapiro
Vallejo, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (7-8) fell to the San Rafael Pacifics (5-8) in a seesaw battle, 9-7, Thursday night, at Wilson Park.
Both squads got offense from their entire lineup, with all nine San Rafael starters collecting at least one hit, and eight-of-nine Vallejo starters doing the same. In addition, both starting pitchers, Demetrius Banks and Ryan DeJesus, labored through a big inning, and both departed having surrendered six runs. In a contest that came down to a battle of the bullpens, the Pacifics just edged out the Admirals efforts late.
For the third time in three games, San Rafael jumped out to an early lead. Banks took some time to settle in, walking the first two hitters of the game. Matt Chavez stepped to the plate and hit a line drive single that just got over shortstop Glenn Walker’s head, driving in a run and giving the Pacifics the 1-0 lead.
After going down in order in their half of the first, Vallejo’s offense broke through in grand fashion in the second.
To lead off the inning, Jordan Hinshaw reached on an error, newcomer Logan Lotti doubled, and Kale Sumner walked to load the bases. After Glenn Walker reached on a fielders choice, Tyler Nordgren chopped a single that scored Logan Lotti from third to tie the game at one apiece.
With the bases still loaded, Pinole native Brad Young stepped to the plate. After taking ball one, the aggressive hitter put a charge into the next pitch he saw, sending it over the center field wall for a grand slam.
“DeJesus threw him a pitch he could hit,” said manager Garry Templeton II. “He made solid contact, and hit it over the fence. That was a big hit for us.”
The grand slam, the Admirals second of the season, gave them a 5-1 lead. Unfortunately, that lead was very short lived.
In the next half inning, San Rafael followed Vallejo’s five spot with one of their own. They didn’t do it with the long ball, however, they did it with a barrage of singles and doubles. The Pacifics led off the inning with six straight hits, and would eventually send 11 men to the plate on their way to recapturing a 6-5 edge.
“It was tough,” said Templeton on San Rafael’s big inning. “Whenever you put a bunch of runs up you always want to go back out there and hang a zero, to keep that momentum. And we just weren’t able to keep that momentum after going up by four.”
Despite the tough inning, Banks managed to battle through and settle down from there, tossing two scoreless innings to keep Vallejo in the game. His evening was done after five.
“It was just some mechanical problems,” explained Templeton on Banks’ rough third inning. “It’s early in the season, and he’s still trying to find his rhythm. I don’t think too many balls were hit hard, maybe one or two. Everything else was broken bats and off the end. That’s just what happens sometimes.”
In the bottom of the fifth, the Admirals got Banks off the hook for the loss. PJ Phillips, who continues to lead the league in hitting with a .393 clip, worked some two out magic, and doubled into the gap. Michael Cerda swung at the very next pitch, and smacked an opposite field single to score Phillips from second, and tilted the contest back to a 6-6 draw.
Unfortunately for Vallejo, San Rafael punched back in the very next half inning once again. Johnny Bekakis secured an RBI ground out, scoring Zack Pace, who had doubled and stolen third base. Maikel Jova later plated another with an RBI single, giving the Pacifics an 8-6 lead.
Fittingly, in the ninth the two foes traded runs one final time, but the Admirals couldn’t muster more than the one run.
Despite the loss, Vallejo remains in second place in the Pacific Association. However, the entire league continues to look up at the Sonoma Stompers, who now comes to town for a big three game series. Templeton kept it simple when asked about the keys to taking on the league’s hottest team.
“We just have to play better. We have to be consistent at our game. No more, no less. Our game right now is about being really aggressive on the base paths, solid pitching, and our defense has to step up. With hitting it’s going to come and go, but I think if we put together some good at bats in streaks, put some singles together, we can hit their pitching. We’ve seen everyone they’re going to have starting, some of them we’ve seen for two or three years. So it’s nothing they’re going to surprise us with. We just have to go out there and be effective at playing our game.”
The series with the Stompers gets underway tonight at 7:07 PM, with the Admirals sending their ace, David Dinelli, to the mound. In addition, the Admirals will also be hosting Star Wars Night! Bust out your lightsabers and come rocking your best Star Wars gear.