By Gabe Schapiro
Vallejo, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (13-26, 1-1) kept it close and competitive all night, but ultimately couldn’t quiet the Sonoma Stompers (26-11, 1-1) offense in the late innings, falling 8-5, Saturday night, at Wilson Park.
For the second game in a row the Stompers jumped on the Admirals early. And for the second game in a row Vallejo battled back, but this time they didn’t have another 16-run outburst in them. The contest was tied as late as the fifth inning, but Sonoma kept chipping away at the Admirals bullpen. They would go on to score in each of the last four frames to provide the difference maker, and seal their victory.
Vallejo starter Devon Ramirez had a solid outing despite being saddled with the tough-luck loss, but struggled out of the gate.
In the first inning the Stompers weren’t making a lot of hard contact, but they were finding holes. All told they would string together five singles, with two fielders choice putouts and a throwing error mixed in, scoring three times to take the early lead.
Ramirez did a nice job of settling in from there, but the Stompers managed to scratch across a fourth run in the fourth to make it 4-0.
“I thought he pitched well, he competed,” said manager Garry Templeton II. “In that first inning they just had a bunch of infield hits and seeing-eye singles, I think they only hit two balls hard off of him. And he did a great job of minimizing the damage. There were a couple of innings that could have gotten away from him, and it could have been six or seven to nothing early on, and he was able to hold them to no runs, or just that one run. He did an excellent job of keeping us on the game.”
Meanwhile, his opposition Eric Schweiger hadn’t allowed a runner to reach second base through three innings of work, but thanks to some two-out magic, Vallejo finally broke through against him in the bottom half of the fourth.
After two quick fly outs, Jaylen Harris got the rally started with a high chopper that bounced over the head of the third baseman for a single. CJ Maldonado followed with a liner to center field that allowed Harris to charge into third. Vallejo’s own Tony Uyeno then stepped to the plate, and slapped an opposite field single that scored Harris and got the Admirals on the board.
The run seemed to briefly swing the momentum in Vallejo’s favor, as they gashed Schweiger again in the very next inning.
Glenn Walker and PJ Phillips reached on a double and single respectively, bringing Josh Wong to the plate. The third baseman entered the at bat tied for the team lead in home runs, and departed sitting alone on the team leader board. Wong put a charge into the second pitch he saw, sending it over the left field wall for a big three-run dinger to tie the game up at 4-4.
“It was a big at bat,” said Templeton. “We needed him in a clutch situation and he came up big and put us right back in that game, and gave us a little more life. That was really big for us as a team and for him personally as a confidence boost.”
After starting the season with an incredible first three games, Wong cooled off a bit, and spent much of the first half with an average sitting around the .200 mark. He would show flashes, however, and seems to be putting things together recently. The home run extended his hitting streak to nine games, as his average has crept up to .254, and continues to rise.
“He’s adjusting to the pitching at this level, professional pitching,” continued Templeton on his third baseman. “He’s starting to cut his swing down, more of the swing we saw from him in spring training.. He’s building that confidence that he can come out here and hit these guys, and his swing is becoming more consistent. Instead of seeing flashes he’s able to go out there and two or three out of four at bats he’s able to have competitive at bats, to where he’s hitting the ball hard or getting deep into the count.”
Despite Wong’s heroics, the tie would be as close to the lead as Vallejo would get
The Stompers recaptured their lead in the sixth, and would go on to put up single runs in the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth innings.
“I think they did a good job of putting the ball in play consistently, especially with two outs,” said Templeton on Sonoma’s potent offense. “That put the pressure on us defensively. They got a lot of infield hits and seeing-eye singles, and think that’s how they got those extra runs. They just kept putting the ball in play.”
The Admirals managed to scratch across one last run in the eighth thanks to a Gadiel Baez RBI single, but that’s where their second comeback bid of the evening ended.
“I think we need to be more consistent throughout the game,” said Templeton on his offense. “We go through spurts where we’re hot one inning and then cold for four. I think we just need to start putting together games where we’re consistently having good at bats throughout the whole game and not just every three innings.”
Vallejo will look to bring some of that consistency they displayed in game one of the series with them this afternoon, in the rubber match against the Stompers. The Admirals will send Scott Weinschenk to the mound, as the action gets underway at 1:00 PM.