By Gabe Schapiro
Vallejo, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (10-19) kept it interesting, but couldn’t overcome an early deficit, falling to the Pittsburg Diamonds (12-17), 7-4, Saturday evening, at Wilson Park.
For the second straight night, all nine Pittsburg starters reached base at least once, with Brandon Williams providing the winning hit with a two-run homer in the fourth.
Admirals starter, Devon Ramirez, wasn’t at his best, but was hampered by an injury that cut his outing short. His counterpart, Barrett Phillips, tossed eight strong innings to earn the win.
The Diamonds did the bulk of their work early, scoring runs in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings to quickly put six runs on the board. The loudest blows came courtesy of Williams and Scott David, who each chipped in two-run home runs in consecutive frames.
Ramirez came up wincing after a delivery in the third. He remained in the contest, but was in some visible discomfort, before finally exiting after four innings of work.
“I think that for the first time in his career he faced something on the mound that he didn’t really know how to make the adjustment for,” said manager Garry Templeton II. “He had a sharp pain in his left foot, his push off foot, so he wasn’t able to get off of the mound like he wanted to, and had less follow through on some of his pitches. As a result, he left a couple of them up and they were able to get a hold of them. It’s unfortunate for him and for us, but hopefully he’ll be okay.”
Despite the early hill to climb, Vallejo didn’t go down without a fight.
They scratched their first run across in the second. Second baseman Michael Cerda led off the inning with a double. The Admirals went with small ball, as they would do several times on the evening, as Jordan Hinshaw laid down a sacrifice bunt to get Cerda to third. He would later score thanks to a wild pitch.
“When you have a team that’s struggling to score runs,” said Templeton, “you want to try and bunt and hit and run, those types of things, to kind of force them to execute. If they’re able to do that you can put up some runs, and thankfully we’ve been able to do a little of that with some small ball.”
In the fourth, Vallejo put together their first, and what would turn out to be their only extended rally.
Cerda and Hinshaw got the ball rolling with a walk and a single, setting up the hot Josh Wong. Wong kept it up, smacking an RBI single, scoring Cerda from second. Tony Uyeno followed that up with an extremely well placed bunt single. Tyler Nodgren and Brad Young came up with some nice situational hitting, coming up with back-to-back sacrifice flies to bring home two more runs.
By the end of the inning, the Admirals found themselves trailing by just one run. The 5-4 score would be as close as they would get, however, as Phillips went on to toss four scoreless frames after the outburst.
“I don’t think he did anything special, that’s just been our MO,” said Templeton. “We’ll jump on somebody early, and then we kind of just lay off of them. It’s not like they change what they’re throwing, I think we just lose focus and maybe get a little overconfident once we start to score on someone. But at the same time, you have to hand it to him, he did his job well.”
Pittsburg added a pair of insurance runs over the final innings, and closer Steve Chapter struck out the side in the ninth to end it.
The Admirals will try to salvage a win in the final game of this three game set against the Diamonds, today at 1:00 PM. Vallejo will send Demetrius Banks to the mound, as he tries to play the role of the stopper.