By Gabe Schapiro
Vallejo, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (8-9) couldn’t hold a late lead, falling to the Sonoma Stompers (12-3), 8-7, Saturday evening, at Wilson Park.
The Admirals scored all of their runs in the second, third, and fourth innings, and appeared to be cruising their way to a victory. The Stompers, however, countered with a late barrage of runs, plating six combined in the seventh and eighth innings to steal the victory out of Vallejo’s grasp.
Sonoma opened up the scoring in the second inning. Admirals starter Nick Flory made quick work of the first two hitters of the inning, striking them both out, for two of his five on the evening. Daniel Baptista then reached on an infield single, setting up Mark Hurley who sent a high fly ball to right field that got over the fence for a two-run homer.
Vallejo responded in their half of the inning, however, by promptly loading the bases with three consecutive singles. Logan Lotti then stepped to the plate, and sent a liner down the right field line for a double, scoring two runs and tying the score at 2-2.
From there, Flory went into cruise control for the next four innings, as the Admirals grabbed and then kept extending their lead.
In the third, PJ Phillips sent a towering home run over the left field wall. Three batters later, Jordan Hinshaw doubled home Michael Cerda, who had singled and gotten to third on a ground out and stolen base.
Finally, in the fourth, Vallejo plated three more. After the first two hitters of the innings were retired, Brad Young was hit by a pitch. Darian Sandford singled, and then Phillips reached on an error, which scored Young all the way from second. Cerda then ended the inning trying to stretch a double into a triple, but not before both Sandford and Phillips had crossed the plate, making it 7-2.
That inning was Sonoma starter Mike Jackson Jr.’s last, but it was also the last runs that the Vallejo bats could muster. Paul Hvozdovic took the mound for the Stompers, and quickly silenced the storm.
“I think the offense is clicking a little bit better now,” said manager Garry Templeton II. “We just have to be able to do it all game long, we can’t just start giving away at bats and letting opportunities slip away after we get a lead. We have to play nine innings.”
The score remained 7-2, until the seventh inning when Sonoma loudly began their comeback. After a quick out number one, Sergio Miranda and Gered Mochizuki smacked consecutive doubles. Then thumpers Joel Carranza and Isaac Wenrich went back-to-back, and just like that, the Admirals lead was down to just one run.
“I just think we left Flory out there too long,” said Templeton on his starter, “He was cruising, and then he got a little tired, left a couple of pitches up where they could hit them, and they got ahold of them.”
Wenrich’s homer chased Flory from the contest, who, outside of one mistake in the second inning, and tiring late, pitched very well.
The Stompers completed their comeback in the eighth. Back-to-back doubles from Matt Hibert and Fehlandt Lentini scored the tying run. Two batters later, with Lentini now on third base, Mochizuki hit a potential inning ending double play to Cerda, but, on a bang-bang play, was called safe at first, allowing Lentini to score the go-ahead and eventual winning run.
The Admirals got the tying run to second base in the ninth, but couldn’t come up with a late comeback of their own.
“We didn’t close the game out,” said Templeton after the tough loss, “we had it in our hands, and we weren’t able to close it out.”
Vallejo will look to get some revenge in today’s rubber match with Sonoma, as they send Scott Weinschenk to the mound. The action gets underway at 1:00 PM.