By Thomas Gase, Vallejo Times-Herald
Throughout time, the number 13 has often been known as an unlucky one, to the point where hotels usually won’t have a 13th floor and San Francisco gives the name Funston to its 13th Avenue. However, the number was something Vallejo Admirals pitcher Jalen Miller Sr. was pretty thrilled about on Tuesday night.
Miller, whose own roster number is the opposite of the bad luck numeral, set an Admirals all-time single-game record when he struck out 13 batters on the way to a 10-3 victory over the Martinez Clippers.
The Vallejo hurler threw seven innings, while giving up just six hits and three earned runs in the victory at Wilson Park.
“Honestly I was just going out there trying to get us a good jump on the rest of the week,” Miller said. “Last week I didn’t have my strikeout stuff so this time I wanted to really make sure I focused and had it tonight.”
Vallejo manager P.J. Phillips was pleased with Miller’s outing.
“He was competing. He was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes and he kept the ball down,” Phillips said. “All of his pitches were working tonight.”
The Admirals righty had plenty of offense to help him out, especially from infielder Rian Kiniry, who had four hits, three of them for extra bases.
“He had a calm approach tonight,” Phillips said of his cleanup hitter. “He had an off day to go see his kids and he came back ready to play.”
Miller showed impeccable control in the top of the first, throwing 13 pitches (there’s that number again), all for strikes and only one of them not swung at. Unfortunately for the Admirals, one of his pitches was hit over the right field fence for a solo home run by Shane Hughes to give Martinez a 1-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Vallejo (31-28) scored two runs in the bottom half of the frame to take the lead. Both runs were scored on infield hits, the second one an RBI single by Chevy Clarke that made it 2-1.
Martinez (16-43) tied the game back up at 2-2 in the second when Jimmy Lunardelli had an RBI single to center that drove home Kent Blackstone, who had doubled earlier in the inning.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the fifth when the Admirals put together a two-out rally. After David Kiriakos had a bunt single and stole second, Kiniry launched a two-run homer down the right field line to make it 4-2. It was his 18th homer of the year.
“My approach didn’t change after (Kiriakos) stole second. I was looking for a fastball to hit to left-center and then also be ready for any breaking ball and to be on time for it,” Kiniry said. “On the home run I thought I got enough of it, but I didn’t think I got all of it, so I had to watch it a little while heading to first to make sure it got out.”
Vallejo continued the rally and a few minutes later dAundray Van Slyke had an RBI single up the middle to make it a three-run lead for the Admirals.
That would ultimately chase Martinez starter Logan Campbell from the game. Campbell pitched five innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits while striking out eight.
Nathan Etheridge closed the gap a little in the sixth with a solo home run to left field that made it 5-3, but Miller pitched a solid seventh inning, retiring the side in order while striking out two more batters in the frame.
“After we got a lead it became even more apparent that I had to stay locked in and throw even more strikes, show off the arm,” Miller said. “The fastball I was using a lot, but I was also using the changeup and curve a lot too. Nick Crouse (the Admirals catcher) does a good job of deciding when we need to get people off their timing. He does a good job of realizing when hitters are trying to jump on first-pitch fastballs, so we just flip it over and give them the curve.”
The Admirals increased the lead to 7-3 with two runs in the bottom of the sixth as Akins had an RBI single and Kiniry collected his third hit of the game with an RBI double. Kiniry would eventually be a triple short of the cycle and when asked if he could have made it to third on this extra base hit, he laughed.
“Maybe,” Kiniry said. “But my legs have been a little sore lately and I’m not trying to push it there.”
The Admirals added another run in the seventh when Vlad Gomez had an RBI single to make it 8-3. Vallejo added two more runs in the eighth thanks to an RBI double by Kiniry and an RBI groundout by Chris Fornaci.
Benicia High graduate Peter Reyes came into pitch the eighth inning for Vallejo and pitched a scoreless frame, while Brett Schneider threw a scoreless ninth to preserve the victory.