It seems like the third time was the charm for the Vallejo Admirals’ lineup on Tuesday night.
After Vallejo’s bats were silent against Martinez starting pitcher Logan Campbell for five innings, the Admirals’ offense made a ton of noise its third time up. In the sixth inning Vallejo plated six runs, highlighted by home runs from Nick Akins Sr. and the first of two home runs on the night from Chris Fornaci, as the Admirals eventually won 10-3 at Joe DiMaggio Field.
“I think we made him (Campbell) throw strikes and we got some pitches we could handle,” Akins said. “When we make guys throw the ball over the plate we’re a much better team. We get ourselves out a lot with our pitch selection. So we settled down and put some runs on the board.”
Fornaci agreed with his teammate.
“Normally the starting pitcher going through the lineup one time, he’s trying to get through with fastballs and not really show the offspeed,” Fornaci said. “The second time he kind of has to show the offspeed, so by the third time you’ve basically seen everything. Some guys have had some four, five-pitch at bats, so at that point you’ve seen your 14th or 15th pitch from a guy. So yeah, absolutely the hitter has a huge advantage there.”
Akins began the sixth inning with a solo home run, his league-leading 14th of the season, and the first of two hits in the inning for Vallejo (17-12), which sent 11 men to bat in the frame. When asked what he was looking for when leading off the sixth, he laughed and didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“Contact,” the Admirals’ left fielder said. “I struck out my first couple of bats. So I was just trying to get on top of a ball and hit it hard. He threw a fastball out, I lined it and I knew it was out. It was a good feeling.”
After the solo home run, David Kiriakos, batting in the cleanup spot, tripled down the line in right field and scored on a Brandon Fischer RBI single to left.
The hit drove Campbell from the game, but the Admirals offense wasn’t done scoring runs in its third time through the lineup. With two outs and two runners on, Fornaci launched his 11th homer of the year, a no-doubter to left that made the score 5-3. Coming to score on the homer was Cyle Figueroa, who had three hits in the game.
“In that at bat I had two strikes so I was just trying to make sure I stayed behind the baseball and I got a slider,” Fornaci said. “I was able to stay behind that one and get in there.”
Vallejo added another run in the inning when Akins Sr. drove home Tillman Pugh to make it 6-3. Pugh had two hits and singled earlier in the inning. He also stole a base, his eighth of the year.
Getting the win on the mound for Vallejo was starter Devin Ramirez. Ramirez struggled in the first two innings by falling behind 3-0 to the Clippers (4-25) due to a three-run homer by Devin Carter, but the lefthander settled down after the second inning, at one point retiring eight batters in a row. He allowed just two base runners and one hit after the second inning as he pitched six innings.
“I liked my changeup and curveball. They were good pitches in difficult situations,” Ramirez said. “I missed a location on a pitch early, but that happens and you have to stay focused on what you have to do after that. I stay focused and helped the team get a win.”
Vallejo gave Ramirez some insurance in the top of the seventh when the Admirals scored another four runs to take a 10-3 lead. The rally was highlighted by another three-run homer by Fornaci, his 12th of the season.
“Approach, approach,” Fornaci said when asked what’s been working well for the third baseman, who has five home runs in the last four games. “P.J. and Nick have talked a lot about approach and I think that’s the key here and make sure you stick with it and allow you to get the pitches you can drive.”
The victory helped pull Vallejo in a tie for second place in the Pacific Association standings, but the Admirals remained five games out of first place behind San Rafael Pacifics, who defeated Sonoma for their 11th straight victory on Tuesday.
Vallejo plays on the road against Sonoma on Wednesday before heading home for a crucial two-game series against San Rafael on Thursday.