When the lights finally came back on about 20 minutes later in the bottom of the sixth it seemed a lot of the energy also went into the Admirals’ offense.
The force was strong with Vallejo’s bats on “Star Wars Night,” as the Admirals scored 12 runs in the frame against the Pittsburg Diamonds on the way to an eventual 21-11 victory that was crazier than a David Lynch film and longer than a DMV wait time.
The 21 runs for the Admirals tied a franchise record, besting the 20 Vallejo scored earlier this season in a June 23 road victory over Sonoma. The Admirals had 20 hits as Chris Fornaci, Chevy Clarke and David Kiriakos led the way by combining for 10 hits, four homers and 10 RBIs. Brandon Fischer also had three hits for Vallejo.
“This was definitely one of the strangest games I’ve been a part of,” Admirals manager P.J. Phillips said. “Both teams walking around 20 guys, scoring a lot of runs … definitely one of the craziest games I’ve been in.”
The previous time the power went out at Wilson Park occurred June 16 at home against the Martinez Clippers. The power went out in that game during the eighth inning and the contest was later continued a week later in part of a doubleheader.
Already up 5-1 entering the sixth, Vallejo (22-15) had RBI singles from Kiriakos and Fischer, as well as a two-run single from Crouse. Vallejo’s offense was getting so hot, it might have blown a fuse.
Moments after Crouse’s hit made the score 10-1, the power went out at the ballpark and the field lights went out. After the 20-minutes delay, power was restored at Wilson Park and play resumed.
“I just told my team we had to still think about playing the game,” Phillips said. “Things like this are going to happen during the course of a season. I wanted the guys on offense to stay aggressive. I always tell them to be aggressive and never take anything for granted.”
When the power came back on, the Admirals continued to swing the bats well as they scored seven more runs in the frame. Kiriakos had a three-run homer to left to cap off a great inning that consisted of two hits, five total bases and four RBIs. Moments after Kiriakos hit his homer, Clarke followed it with a solo shot of his own to left, his second long ball on the night.
“During the delay you just try to stay mentally focused and just stay loose. I mean that’s all you can do,” Clarke said. “With that home run I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and hopefully not miss it.”
Although the Admirals had built a 17-1 lead heading into the seventh, the downside was that the delay hurt Vallejo starter Frank Valentino’s chance of re-entering the game. Prior to the power outage Valentino was cruising, having given up just one hit since the first inning. He earned his fifth win of the season.
“Tonight it was more about me getting ground balls in the right spots and my teammates helping me out,” Valentino said. “As the game went on I felt a lot better with my fastball and it’s always about trying to command that. I really didn’t throw a lot of breaking stuff tonight. A few sliders, but not many.”
Valentino was staked to an early 5-1 lead thanks to first-inning two-run homer from Rian Kiniry, a solo home run by Clarke, an RBI single by Kiriakos and an RBI groundout by Crouse. This was more than enough for the Admirals starter on the night, but he was done after six innings.
“He was done regardless of the delay as he was up to 99 pitches through six innings, but he gave us a great start,” Phillips said. “He kept his composure. When runners got on he would settle down and pound the strike zone.”
But while nobody was dressed up as Yoda at Wilson Park, you could hear fans muttering, “Control, control, you must learn control!” when the top of the seventh began. The first seven Diamonds’ batters either walked or were hit by a pitch by relievers Alex Fishberg and Ryan Owens. When Yuki Yasuda walked for the second time in the inning, it brought home a run to make it just 17-7 in Vallejo’s favor.
Pittsburg (16-21) got within seven runs of the Admirals in the top of the eighth when pinch hitter Wes Wallace hit a three-run homer to cut the lead to 17-10.
Thankfully for the Admirals’ faithful, Fornaci collected his fourth hit of the night in the eighth inning and provided some more insurance with a no-doubt, grand slam to left to make it 21-10. It was Fornaci’s second grand slam of the season. Both he and Kiniry have 13 homers, second in the league.