By Gabe Schapiro
San Rafael, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (11-21) made a late charge, overcoming a five run deficit to stun the San Rafael Pacifics (17-14), 7-6,Wednesday afternoon at Albert Park.
San Rafael appeared to have total control of the contest early. Starter Wander Beras tossed five scoreless innings to begin the game, while his offense had put six runs on the board by the sixth inning. Vallejo never gave up, however, and slowly began chipping away at the lead. They completed the comeback with an incredible two-out rally in the ninth, despite four different hitters being down to the last strike of the game. Bryan Escanio pitched a scoreless final two frames to take home the victory.
Vallejo starter Scott Weinschenk wasn’t as his best, battling through base runners in every inning. After being able to dance out of trouble initially, the Pacifics broke through in the third.
The game’s first run came via a Maikel Jova slow chopper that shortstop Gadiel Baez charged, and in an attempt to make the difficult play, threw wide of first baseman PJ Phillips, allowing Zach Pace to score. That set up runners at second and third for Jeremy Williams, who sent both home with a first pitch single, giving San Rafael a 3-0 lead.
The Pacifics kept adding on, scoring one run in the fourth and fifth, and ending Weinschenk’s day in the sixth courtesy of a David Kiriakos solo shot.
“He competed, that’s one thing you have to give him,” said manager Garry Templeton. “He went out there and competed with everything he had. He made a couple of mistake pitches that cost him a little bit, but we were still able to pull it out in the end.”
Meanwhile, the Admirals struggled to get anything going against Beras early, who didn’t surrender his first hit until the fifth inning.
In the sixth, however, the tide slowly started to turn.
Aaron Brill led off the inning with a strikeout, but thanks to a dropped third strike, and first baseman Matt Chavez not being able to corral the throw from catcher Ricky Gingras, ended up at second base. Glenn Walker drove him in with an infield single, before he also advanced to second on a throwing error, this time by third baseman Adrian Martinez. Phillips promptly smacked Vallejo’s first hit to leave the infield, scoring Walker.
The Admirals finally chased Beras from the game in the eighth, but not before Jaylen Harris singled in Brill to cut their deficit to 6-3.
San Rafael called on Michael Kershner to close it out. It took him five pitches to record the first two outs, but then things got interesting.
Brill started the charge innocently enough, working a four-pitch walk, signaling the start of Kershner’s control problems. He would go on to walk the next three consecutive hitters, forcing in a run, and cutting it to 6-4.
The Pacifics went to their bullpen again, bringing in Nick Hudson to face Phillips with the bases loaded. Phillips worked a full count, before hitting a liner that found real estate between the second baseman and left fielder, scoring two runs and tying the game up at 6-6.
“At a crucial time we had our best hitter up,” said Templeton, “and he showed up for us. He’s shown up all season, but at a really crucial time we had our best guy, the guy we want up, and he showed and proved.”
Hudson battled control problems as well, walking CJ Maldonado to once again load the bases, this time for Josh Wong, the ninth Admiral to come to the plate in the inning.
“I didn’t think that I would get an at bat that inning,” explained Wong, “but as I saw guys getting on base I started getting mentally ready. Finally I was on deck, and just thinking that I had to get the run in any way possible.”
And got the run in he did, with an emphasis on any way possible. The second pitch of the at bat ran inside, hitting him, and forcing in the go-ahead run.
“I had been hitting the ball okay, it had just been finding gloves,” continued Wong after the game. “But sometimes baseball just finds a way, and I’m glad I got it done somehow.”
“It’s good to have something like that develop in our favor for once,” added Templeton. “I think our hitters were patient; they went up there and took pitches. It was a guy we had faced before, and he had struggled at times against us. We made him throw strikes, and ended up stringing together some walks.”
Hudson finally got the innings third out, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth.
Escanio had pitched a scoreless eighth for the Admirals, and remained in the game to try and preserve the one-run lead against the heart of the Pacifics order, who made sure to keep it interesting.
Things started ominously, with Chavez leading off with a double. Jova then struck a screaming line drive that appeared to be destined for the left field corner, but Wong leaped up to snag it for the innings first out. Williams then hit a line drive of his own, but once again it found a glove. Brill came down with it this time, and stepped on second to complete the unassisted double play to end the threat as quickly as it had started, and clinch the much needed win for the Admirals.
“He’s our closer, and he’s done an excellent job coming in late in games and shutting the door for us,” said Templeton. “At the time I just wanted to make sure we got him into the game to get him some work because it’s been a while since he’s been in a game. So it wasn’t a closing situation, but it turned into one and he got the job done.”
With their losing streak now behind them, Vallejo will look to string some wins together. They’ll start with tonight’s rubber match against the Pacifics, as they send David Dinelli to the mound. The action gets underway at 7:00 PM.