By Gabe Schapiro
Pittsburg, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (10-17) couldn’t hold a late lead, losing the rubber match to the Pittsburg Diamonds (10-17), 8-6, Thursday night at City Field Park.
The outcome came down to a battle of the bullpens, with neither starter factoring into the decision. The Admirals had a lead as late as the eighth inning, before the Diamonds put up a four spot to put the game away.
Former Admiral, outfielder Brandon Williams, stung his former club on the way to the Pittsburg victory. He finished the contest going four-for-four with two home runs, the second of which proved to be the game winner, and four RBIs.
The first inning saw an outburst of scoring from both sides, in what appeared to have all the makings of a slugfest the night after a good ole fashioned pitchers duel.
Jaylen Harris and Glenn Walker led off the game with a pair of walks. PJ Phillips then hit into a fielders choice, but in an attempt to turn two, second baseman Scott David air mailed first baseman Mike Taylor, allowing Harris to score. Tony McClendon doubled, putting runners at second and third. Phillips then scored on yet another Pittsburg defensive miscue, this time by shortstop Aaron Brill, who let a routine ground ball get by him. A pair of RBI singles from Brad Young and CJ Maldonado put an exclamation point on the inning, making it 4-0 before Diamonds starter Jheyson Manzueta finally found the third out.
Pittsburg wasted no time swinging right back against the Admirals’ Nick Flory.
In their half of the first, Williams got his great night started with a bang, thanks to a lead off home run. After striking out David, Rich Mejia worked a walk, and then the always-dangerous Taylor quickly made it a one-run game, launching another home run. Flory limited the damage, and exited the inning maintaining a 4-3 advantage.
Despite the ugly start, both hurlers settled down from there, and started throwing up zeros.
“He had a rough first inning,” said manager Garry Templeton II on his lefty, “but he did a good job of settling down after that. I think he struggled with getting ahead of hitters today, but he put zeros up on the board after that, and he kept us in the game.”
Another run wouldn’t cross the plate until the sixth, when the Diamonds were gifted a run.
After a quick out number one, Flory walked consecutive batters, ending his night. Ian Gray was called on to calm the storm, but like both starters, took some time to get into a groove. Gray walked two more, the final free pass coming with the bases loaded, tying the game up at 4-4.
With the bases still loaded, Gray struck out the next two hitters he faced to stop the bleeding.
Like the Diamonds did with Flory, the Admirals finally got to Manzueta again in the seventh, grabbing their lead right back.
Harris walked, and advanced to second with a Walker sacrifice bunt. After stealing third, Harris scored on an infield single off of the bat of Phillips, to give Vallejo a 5-4 advantage.
The Admirals added another in the eighth, which at the time seemed to be a nice insurance run.
In the bottom half of the eighth, however, the wheels fell off. The usually reliable Steve Thompson entered, but didn’t have his best stuff. By the time three batters had come to the plate, Vallejo’s lead had vanished.
Nick Oddo and Andrew Rubalcava, both pinch hitting, led off the inning with a single and a double respectively. Williams stepped to the plate, having already gone three-for-three with a walk. He wasn’t done hurting his former club, sending the fifth pitch of the at bat over the left field wall for a go-ahead three run dinger.
Later in the inning, another former Admiral, Joe Lewis, smacked a double into the gap to plate another run, giving the Diamonds an 8-6 lead.
In the ninth, Vallejo got a lead off double from Walker, but he was stranded there, as the next three hitters were retired in order.
Vallejo has let a couple of late leads slip away recently, which Templeton attributed to “being young and not completely being prepared to enter the game.”
“It’s about how to come in and pitch to certain batters,” he continued. “We have to make adjustments to where if a guy is hitting a certain pitch, we can’t keep giving it to them to hit, especially when we have charts on these guys. We need to be a little smarter with our pitches at times.”
With their nine-game road trip complete, the Admirals finally return home tonight, to begin a three game set against these same Pittsburg Diamonds. They will send Scott Weinschenk to the mound, as they look to get back to their winning ways.
In addition, tomorrow we will be celebrating the 4th of July at the ballpark, with Military Appreciation Day! Come to the game with your military ID, or in uniform, and you will get in for half price admission, and receive a free hot dog. Prior to the game, we will also be in Vallejo’s July 4th parade, featuring all of our players handing out schedules and free tickets.