PITTSBURG, CALIF. – Picking up where his colleagues had left off last night, Pittsburg Diamonds starting pitcher Tyler Stirewalt cruised through 7 2/3 scoreless innings tonight on his club’s way to a 4-0 blanking of the visiting Vallejo Admirals. Stirewalt’s foe Frank Valentino registered a quality start in his six innings of work, but for the second night in a row, the Admirals’ bats fell flat. After 31 total runs and 12 home runs over two weekend days in Martinez, Vallejo didn’t score once against Pittsburg at midweek.
From the ninth spot in the order, Yuki Yasuda caused trouble all night long. He doubled against Valentino to open the fourth, then was bunted to third by Patrick O’Donnell. Morgan Blatnik’s sacrifice fly brought Yasuda home to open the scoring. In the fifth, Yasuda created a two-out nightmare by singling and stealing second, then coming home on O’Donnell’s double to make it 2-0. O’Donnell, bumped to the leadoff spot tonight while Brett Smith received a day of rest, figured in every major rally of the two-game series.
Though the Diamonds played more quality baseball over nine innings, Admirals left fielder d’Aundray Van Slyke managed to outdo himself when it came to converting home runs into outs. He denied Jordan Van Atta in the fourth, camped at the wall before the ball arrived. The catch in the seventh summoned images of Ken Griffey Jr. or Spiderman: Joel Carranza pulled a well-struck liner down the line, and Van Slyke ran up the wall to swipe the ball from leaving at the foul pole.
Unafraid to pitch to contact, Stirewalt (2-0) kept his opponents off balance, allowing only four hits while walking two and striking out five. Pittsburg tacked on in the sixth, again starting the rally with two outs and the bases clear. Wes Wallace singled and stole second, then took third on catcher Ryan Cooper’s throwing error. Wallace came home on Van Atta’s single to push Pittsburg’s lead to 3-0, but that came at a price. Diving back into the bag ahead of a Valentino pickoff throw, Van Atta injured the right side of his torso badly enough that he left the game, and the ballpark in an ambulance. The Diamonds slugger has dealt with arm and wrist issues over the past two seasons, and this appeared to be the latest setback.
Valentino (1-2) gave up three runs and seven hits over his six innings, striking out three and walking none. Former Yankees farmhand Simon de la Rosa made his Admirals debut (along with the catcher Cooper), and he surrendered the final run of the ballgame when he replaced Valentino in the seventh. He hit Chad Highberger with a pitch and allowed a single to Yasuda; both men advanced on O’Donnell’s long flyout. Blatnik chopped a grounder to short to drive in Highberger and complete the scoring at 4-0. Cain Spangler picked up a save, as he relieved Stirewalt with two on and two out in the Vallejo eighth, and retired the four batters he saw to complete the game.
Both clubs’ first basemen suffered bizarre injuries on consecutive days; for the Admirals, Graylin Derke’s status remains day-to-day after evaluation and treatment for the baseball that struck him above the left eye at the end of Tuesday’s batting practice session. Despite losing both games this week to Pittsburg, the Admirals remain in first place after Wednesday’s action, thanks to losses by Napa and San Rafael.
The Admirals return to Wilson Park for their longest homestand of the year thus far, opening a three-game residency by playing the expansion Napa Silverados on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. in the clubs’ first-ever meeting. The Web shortcut to purchase tickets to Admirals home games is bit.ly/admiralstickets. The Admirals’ official Web site is vallejoadmirals.com. Social media: Facebook.com/VallejoAdmirals, Twitter @VallejoAdmirals, Instagram @VallejoAdmirals. Telephone: (707) 641-1111.