By Gabe Schapiro
Vallejo, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (9-22) made it look easy on Friday night, taking command early and never looking back in a 9-3 victory over the Sonoma Stompers (16-15) at Wilson Park.
After getting through a rough patch early in the year, Demetrius Banks continued his resurgence, tossing seven strong innings, allowing just one run on five hits, while tying his season high with eight strike outs. This was now his seventh straight outing allowing three earned runs or less.
During that stretch, Banks was unfortunately the tough-luck loser on multiple occasions, as his offense struggled to get him much run support. That wasn’t a problem on this night, however, as Vallejo’s bats hit Sonoma starter Eric Schwieger hard early and often.
All but one Admirals starter reached base at least once, with Tim Williams leading the charge. The centerfielder went four-for-five, with one home run, four runs driven in, and a stolen base for good measure. As a whole Vallejo was extremely aggressive on the base paths, stealing a whopping eight bases on the night.
Both sides went down in order in the first, before the Admirals broke through in the second.
PJ Phillips worked a walk to lead things off. With two outs, Tyler Nordgren later doubled, putting runners at second and third for Tyger Pederson. Pederson roped a single on the second pitch he saw, scoring Phillips easily. Nordgren tried to come around to score as well, but a perfect throw from Matt Hibbert gunned him down at the plate to end the inning.
Sonoma quickly had an answer, however, as they mounted their biggest threat against Banks in the top of the third.
A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with just one out. Yuki Yasuda worked a walk to force in a run, but Banks buckled down from there. With the infield draw in, he induced a ground ball right at PJ Phillips at first, getting a force out at home plate. He then struck out the dangerous Mark Hurley to end the inning.
The bases loaded walk tied the game at 1-1, but that’s all that the Stompers would be able to muster against the veteran lefty, as his offense went right back to work.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Admirals let their speed take over. Gadiel Baez pulled a Ricky Henderson, walking to lead off the inning, and then stealing second and third base on the next two pitches. Glenn Walker then singled him home for the go-ahead run. Williams followed with another single, before both advanced to second and third base on double steal. Newcomer Mason Morioka hit a high chopper that got over the head of Yasuda at third base, allowing both runners to score. The two-RBI single would prove to be the winning runs, as it gave Vallejo a 4-1 lead.
The Admirals kept their foot on the gas pedal, however, adding two more in the very next inning.
After a quick two outs, Baez and Walker set the table once again, and in a case of some déjà vu, pulled off a double steal. Williams slapped a single into left field, scoring both, and extending their advantage to 6-1.
Williams added a no-doubt solo home run in the seventh, and another RBI single in the eighth, to go along with a Tyger Pederson RBI double to make it 9-1 heading into the ninth.
The Stompers scratched across a pair of runs in the final frame thanks to a couple of strange hops in the infield, but it would be far too little too late, as David Wynn struck out Eddie Mora-Loera to end it.
The Admirals will be back at it tonight for game two of this three game set against Sonoma. The action gets underway at 5:00 PM.