By Gabe Schapiro
Vallejo, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (8-20) fell behind quickly, but stormed back to take down the first place San Rafael Pacifics (18-10), 9-4, Tuesday Night, at Wilson Park.
Starter Nick Grim was making his Admirals debut, and battled through a rocky start to take home the victory, in an outing that manager Garry Templeton II appropriately described as being “effectively wild.” First baseman Lydell Moseby gave him all of the run support he would need, finishing the night three-for-five with one home run and five driven in.
Reliever Steve Thompson took over for Grim in the sixth, and tossed a scoreless final four frames. This was Thompson’s last appearance for the Vallejo navy blue and gold, as he now returns back to school. One of the most reliable and durable arms in the pen for the Admirals all season, the big righty goes out in style, earning his first save in his longest outing of the year.
The Pacifics came in with probably the most potent lineup in the Pacific Association, and it offered Grim a rude welcoming to the league.
The first three batters of the game reached base, with Zach Pace being gunned down at home after a Danny Gonzalez double for the first out of the inning. With two men on, however, Jake Taylor sent a deep fly ball to center field that wouldn’t stop carrying. It barely got over the wall and past the outstretched glove of Chad Bunting for a three-run shot.
San Rafael handed a 3-0 lead to Nick DeBarr, who entered the contest five strikeouts short of the Pacific Association record, and in the top five in ERA.
Never fear, for Lydell Moseby was here.
Glenn Walker and Tim Williams led off the bottom half of the first with a single and a hit by pitch. Two batters and two outs later, Moseby stepped to the plate. On the third pitch of the at bat, Moseby sent a deep drive to right-center field, sailing over the wall, matching Taylor with a three-run bomb of his own.
“That was huge for us,” said Templeton. “That’s something we’ve struggled with throughout the season, is getting down and not being able to come back. He got us back on one swing right away.”
After trading long-balls in the first, the two squads traded single runs in the third, keeping the score tied, now at 4-4.
That would be all the Pacifics would get, as Grim buckled down and threw a one-two-three fourth, and fought through a pair of base runners unscathed in the fifth to end his night.
“This was my first time seeing him, and I had heard that he was effectively wild, and I can say that that was true today,” said Templeton. “He definitely has some swing-and-miss type stuff. The more he’s in the strike zone or around the strike zone I think he can be really effective. I’m looking forward to him making a couple of little adjustments and coming out and throwing ever better than he did tonight.”
In the bottom half of the fifth, Vallejo got the momentum swinging decidedly in their favor.
Bunting and Phillips reached on an error and fielders choice, setting the stage, once again, for Moseby. The lanky 6’6” first baseman came through, lining a single to left field that scored Bunting easily for the go-ahead run.
“Not necessarily just the home run,” explained Templeton, “but his approach and aggressiveness that I’ve been looking for from him to have since the start of the season when he had his hot start, it’s good to see him get back to that.”
Josh Wong followed with another single that allowed Phillips to come around as well, as the Admirals found themselves with a 6-4 lead.
In the sixth, Grim handed the ball off to Thompson.
Entering the night, Thompson hadn’t allowed an earned run since August 6, and he came in and accomplished more of the same.
“My intention was to have him out there for two innings, maybe three innings max, and then go and get somebody else,” said Templeton. “But he seemed like he was rolling and throwing well. He looked like he was feeling it, so I just let him keep going.”
Thompson battled through two singles in the sixth, and then faced the minimum over the final three innings, thanks to a pair of dazzling double plays turned behind him.
Meanwhile, the Admirals kept adding to their lead.
Moseby drove in his fifth run of the night with an RBI single in the seventh, Gadiel Baez created two more runs in the eighth for the final blow, doubling in one and scoring himself after a stolen base and an error. That made it 9-4, as Vallejo cruised to the win.
“It seems like we play these guys pretty well consistently,” said Templeton after snapping their five-game losing streak. “For whatever reason we just always show up against them. It’s always good to win, but now it’s about focusing on winning the next one, so we don’t have to wait another five games.”
Vallejo is back at it tonight for game two of this three game set against San Rafael, as the action gets underway at 7:00 PM.