The Vallejo Admirals have learned you can’t spell Jared Koenig’s last name without a “K.” On Tuesday night at Wilson Park the San Rafael Pacifics starting pitcher had a whole bunch of them.
The lefty set what is believed to be the Pacific Association’s record for most strikeouts in a game with 15 as he gave up just one run in 7 2/3 innings in a 3-1 win. Koenig’s 15 strikeouts is one better than the 14 then-San Rafael pitcher Dakota Freese had in June of 2017 in a one-hitter against Pittsburg.
“I had a good fastball, good command,” Koenig said. “I mean I had six walks, which is a negative, but I was still getting downhill and getting good life on the fastball.”
As a team, the Admirals struck out 17 times for the game. They had numerous scoring opportunities during the contest, loading the bases in the third, fourth and eighth innings, but could only turn that into one run.
“He threw a lot of strikes early in the count and by him getting ahead it was kind of tough as a team to collectively get something going against him,” Admirals’ rightfielder Vlad Gomez said. Gomez had two doubles on the night, but the rest of the lineup could only muster four hits during the game.
Despite the loss Vallejo (32-39) remained five games ahead of Napa for the fourth and final playoff spot. San Rafael (46-25) is three games behind Sonoma, which is in first place.
Although Vallejo lost, the Admirals had to be pleased with the bounce-back outing from starting pitcher Mike Anthony. San Rafael took a 1-0 lead off Anthony in the top of the first when Brent Gillespie doubled in the left-center gap to score Rando Moreno, who had singled earlier in the inning, but Anthony soon settled down. At one point he retired eight batters in a row from the second inning into the fourth inning.
Anthony’s main nemesis on Tuesday was Gillespie, who came up big again in the fourth inning, this time with a solo home run to right field. It was his 61st RBI of the year.
The Pacifics added another run in the fifth when Corey Dempster had a two-out double to left to plate Kyle Ulanday, who singled earlier in the inning.
Meanwhile Koenig was on top of his game as he retired the first six Vallejo batters, five of them via the strikeout.
He got into trouble in the third and the fifth, but each time got out of bases-loaded jams by retiring Admiral leftfielder Nick Akins Sr.
Koenig kept cruising, however, as he earned his record-breaking 15th strikeout of the game in the eighth inning when he retired Edgar Herrera swinging. Koenig seemed to run out of gas though as he then walked the next two batters, the second one to Nick Crouse which allowed Akins to score from third and make the score 3-1.
“It was frustrating in the eighth leaving the ball up a few times,” Koenig said. “I had dug real deep to get those first two outs and I was a little worn out after that.”
The Pacifics lefty had thrown well over 100 pitches and was relieved by Tyler Herr, who then struck out Chris Fornaci to end the threat in the eighth inning.
Jose Casilla pitched the ninth inning and earned the save for San Rafael as he retired Rian Kiniry for the last out of the game on a liner to center.
“We need to try and turn things around and get going for the playoffs,” Gomez said. “All it takes is two wins in a one-and-done.”