By Matt O’Donnell, Vallejo Times-Herald (Photo credit: Chris Riley)
It’s hard to tell how well Vallejo Admirals left-hander Luis Ramirez will sleep in the next few days but once he does, he may see San Rafael Pacifics first baseman Jake Taylor in his nightmares.
Taylor accounted for four of the six runs Ramirez allowed in six innings and the Pacifics went on to sweep the two-game, Pacific Association series after a 11-5 win on Wednesday night at Wilson Park.
Vallejo (14-10) fell into third place and three games back of first-place San Rafael in the first-half standings. The Pacifics (17-7), meanwhile, have won six straight.
“It’s a long season, stuff happens; you’re not going to swing the bat well every day,” said Admirals outfielder Nick Akins Sr. who hit his league-leading 10th homer in the loss. “I’m more concerned with our defense and throwing strikes than the bats.”
San Rafael starting pitcher Fernando Baez initially angered the Admirals with his wildness. Then, he frustrated them with his control. The right-hander went seven innings, allowing four hits and two runs while striking out 11. He left with an 8-2 lead.
Taylor, the hulking Pacifics slugger, finished with four hits and five RBIs.
He went opposite field in the first inning, connecting for a three-run homer with DonAndre Clark and Javion Randle aboard for an early 3-0 lead.
He made it 4-2 in the third by unloading over the left-field wall against Ramirez. Akins, the left fielder, didn’t even move as the ball sailed high over the left field wall.
It was a cold night in Vallejo but it didn’t seem to affect Taylor.
“It really only gets cold when the sun goes down … then it gets really cold,” Taylor said. “This is my fourth year playing here so you get used to it. You just try to play the field. It’s a lot of fun playing here too. I don’t mind it.”
The Admirals made it 3-2 in the bottom of the first on Graylin Derke’s two-run double off the wall in center to score Rian Kiniry and Tillman Pugh. Derke extended his league-leading RBI total to 36 with the hit.
On a bright note, the Admirals brought back center fielder and defending league MVP Pugh. The veteran returned to the Bay Area after spending some time with the Ottawa Champions in the Can-Am League. On the first pitch he saw he was hit in the head by a Baez fastball but he stayed in the game.
Baez later hit Chris Fornaci with a pitch and the Admirals had some words with the pitcher although the right-hander did not pitch inside as much after the first three innings.
“I thought he didn’t control his fastball too well,” Akins said. “He was trying to get first-pitch strikes with his breaking ball and guys were letting it pass.”
Vallejo didn’t make a lot of noise against Baez but cut the lead to 9-5 in the eighth against Pacifics reliever Brandon Warner. After Akins went deep, David Kiriakos had a run-scoring single and Cyle Figueroa added an RBI double to make it a four-run game.
With two men still on, the Pacifics brought on left-hander Mitch Williams to face Kiniry but Williams struck him out to end the threat.
While the Pacifics played fundamental baseball in the series, the Admirals did not. Vallejo had two base runners thrown out at third base and the Pacifics took an extra base after right fielder Vladimir Gomez was slow to react on a single late in the game.
“(The mistakes) kill the game, it takes you out of innings, it stops rallies,” Akins said. “That’s stuff that cannot happen, mental mistakes.”
Taylor picked up his fourth hit and fifth RBI of the night with a bloop single to right field. It was that kind of the night for San Rafael as everything seemed to go its way.
“The dugout is the biggest thing,” Taylor said about the winning streak. “We come in there and we’re not worried and we’re having fun. We’re all talking to each other. No one is yelling and everybody is just loose and it shows on the field.”
Notes: Fornaci made one of the top defensive plays of the game when he ended a bases-loaded threat to end the fifth by fielding a slow roller from Clark and flipping the ball off balance to second base to nail Aaron Brill for the final out. … With 10 homers, Akins is already sixth for single-season in Admirals’ history. … Kiriakos hit in the No. 7 slot for the first time all season.