By Gabe Schapiro
Vallejo, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (7-7) lost a crazy one to the San Rafael Pacifics (4-8), 9-7 in 11 innings, Wednesday Night, at Wilson Park. The Admirals showed a lot of fight, twice coming from behind to tie the game, but couldn’t quite come through a third time in extras.
For the second straight night, the Pacifics grabbed an early lead. This time they didn’t do it with the long ball. After a quick out number one in the first, San Rafael rallied off four straight singles, coupled with a misplay in the outfield, resulting in a 3-0 advantage.
In the very next inning, San Rafael made it a four run lead, getting a solo home run from catcher Ricky Gingras.
After cruising through the first three frames, Vallejo finally got to Pacifics starter Nick DeBarr in the fourth, but perhaps as a bit of foreshadowing to how the rest of the game would go, they did it in unusual fashion.
First baseman PJ Phillips singled, and Cerda reached on an error that put runners on second and third. Then with Jordan Hinshaw at the plate, DeBarr was called for a balk, scoring Phillips, and making it a 4-1 contest.
San Rafael quickly got the run back. In the fifth, Maikel Jova reached on an error to lead off the inning, and eventually came around to score on a David Kiriakos single, restoring their four run lead.
Vallejo starter Devon Ramirez labored early, and had to pitch through a pair of defensive miscues behind him, but finished strong, tossing a one-two-three sixth to end his night.
“He struggled a little during the first two innings, just finding himself,” said manager Garry Templeton II on his starter. “After that he settled in and started throwing pretty well for us. Really if you look at it without those two errors he threw six innings with two earned runs. If your starter does that you should be able to get a win out of it.”
While they couldn’t get him a win, the Admirals made sure he wouldn’t get pinned with a loss either.
In their half of the sixth, Juan Martinz and Darian Sandford led off with a pair of singles. Phillips added another, scoring Martinez to make it a three run deficit. Vallejo kept chipping away, and thanks to a Michael Cerda RBI ground out, Tony McClendon RBI single, and Logan Lotti’s first hit as an Admiral, another RBI single, by the end of the inning it was all tied up at 5-5.
The see-saw battle continued, when, in the eighth, the Pacifics took the lead back once again. And once again, it was an error that gave them the run. A lead off Kiriakos single was the only hit of the inning, but a Martinez throwing error that would have ended the frame allowed him to come around a score.
Fortunately for the Admirals, they had another come back in them.
Hinshaw led off the bottom of the bottom of the ninth with a single, and advanced on one of the more bizarre sacrifice flies you’ll ever see. Lotti hit a short pop up behind home plate, the catcher Gingras sprinted over and caught it, but stumbled a bit as he came down with it. Thanks to that stumble, and some heads up base running, Hinshaw advanced to second on the put out. Hinshaw promptly stole third base, and scored on a much more traditional sac fly off the bat of Glenn Walker, sending the game to extra innings.
After a scoreless top half of the tenth, the Admirals came up with a chance for a walk off, and once again things got a little weird.
Sandford led off the inning with a walk, and as tends to happen with the speedster on base, it was off to the races. Two stolen bases and two outs later, Sandford was standing at third, with Hinshaw at the plate. Hinshaw took ball one, then fouled off the second pitch to make it a one-and-one count. As the lefty Lovejoy came set for the third pitch of the at bat, Sandford bolted for home. In a bang-bang play that could have easily gone either way, the home plate umpire called him out, denying Sandford his late game heroics, much to the displeasure of both Sandford and the Vallejo faithful.
In the top of the 11th, the home plate umpire again played a major role. The first three Pacifics all reached, loading the bases for Kiriakos. He sent a medium fly ball to right field, and with Miakel Jova tagging up from third, Hinshaw caught it and fired a perfect strike to catcher Kale Sumner. Sumner remained standing, in an effort to deke Jova into thinking a throw wasn’t coming. The ball beat Jova home, and the deke worked, as Jova came in standing, but none-the-less, the umpire ruled that his foot got in under Sumner’s tag, giving San Rafael the lead, and launching the Admirals dugout into an uproar of appeal.
By the time the dust had settled, the Pacifics would score three times in inning, carrying a 9-6 lead into the bottom of the 11th.
Vallejo went down fighting, getting one of the runs back on an RBI single from Sumner, but that’s as far as their third come back attempt would get.
“They showed a lot of heart and a lot of fight, which is always nice to see,” said Templeton. “We’re just looking to see a little more consistency early in the game, so we don’t have to be put in these types of situations to where we’re in extra innings and having to fight from behind.”
After the tough and at times chaotic loss, Templeton was asked about whether needing a short-term memory comes in to play.
“I think we have to remember a little bit, just to keep that fire in us. We know how they felt winning on our field, so you have to remember a little bit. I think that the things we have to forget are the situations during the game when we had chances to execute and we didn’t. Those are the things you have to learn from and move on.”
The Admirals will look to win the series tonight in the rubber match against the Pacifics. They’ll have Demetrius Banks on the mound, with the action getting underway at 7:07 PM.