By Gabe Schapiro
Vallejo, CA – With a strong cheering section in tow, the Vallejo Admirals (12-27) capped the 2015 season on a good note, beating Jose Canseco and the Pittsburg Diamonds (20-19), 4-2, Sunday evening, at City Park Field.
Starter Nick Flory tossed one of his best outings of the season, getting the win while outdueling the renowned slugger Canseco, who, despite being known as a “Bash Brother,” pitched admirably in opposition. Flory turned in seven strong innings, scattering five hits, allowing just two runs, while walking one, and striking out three. Closer Bryan Escanio battled through some ninth inning dramatics to end it, and secure his league-leading 11th save.
In support of the stingy pitching performances, Vallejo got all of the offensive support they would need from the top of their lineup. PJ Phillips turned in his 27th double of the year, extending the Pacific Association single season record he set the day before. Lead off man Glenn Walker later provided the finishing blow, a go-ahead two-run home run.
Canseco was wild out of the gate.
In the first inning he walked his first of six hitters, and hit his first of three. As he would do for most of his six innings, however, he used what might best be described as “junkball” stuff to keep the Admirals hitters just off the barrel enough to get out of jams.
In the third, Vallejo managed to capitalize.
Gadiel Baez worked one of his three walks, and took advantage of Canseco’s slow delivery, stealing second with ease. Tim Williams promptly singled him home for the game’s first run. Phillips kept the rally going, doubling down the line, scoring Williams, and giving the Admirals a 2-0 lead.
Pittsburg would have an answer.
In the following inning, the always-dangerous Mike Taylor got the Diamonds on the board with a solo shot. Then in the fifth, the Diamonds tied the game when Michael Cerda scored on a rare 9-4 fielders choice off of the bat of Brandon Williams.
In the sixth, however, it was Vallejo’s turn to respond.
With two outs in the inning, Kevin Barker singled, bringing Walker to the plate. The speedy middle infielder finished the season third in the league in stolen bases, but on the final day displayed some of his pop as well. On the third pitch of the at bat, Walker sent a line drive dinger over the left field wall. His first home run of the season gave the Admirals a 4-2 lead, one that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Flory finished strong, throwing a one-two-three seventh to end his evening and his season on a high note. The crafty lefty proved to be a valuable work horse for Vallejo this season, leading the team in starts, and finishing third in the league with 91 innings pitched.
Rookie Justin Hertzmann tossed a perfect eighth, handing things off to Escanio to close it out.
The feisty Diamonds wouldn’t go down quietly, however, mounting a comeback attempt against one of the league’s best late inning relievers.
Rich Mejia led off the ninth with a single, and Joe Lewis followed with a walk. Andrew Rubalcava grounded out, but hit it slowly enough to advance both runners, putting the tying run at second, and the winning run at the plate. Escanio buckled down from there, striking out Cerda and Nick Oddo to end the game, and the 2015 season.
It wasn’t the year the Admirals were hoping for, but there was excitement, there were comebacks, there was history made, and records broken. In the end, there was one last positive note as Vallejo returned home with a win, and something to build on for the 2016 season and beyond.