By Tim Fitzgerald
It’s always a good feeling for a manager to get their first win at the helm of a ball club. But for a manager to get his first victory on his own walk-off hit, that has to be surreal.
New Admirals player-manager P.J. Phillips came up to the plate in a 4-4 game with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 9th Saturday night. He hit a shot through the right side past Pittsburg’s diving first baseman Mike Taylor. It plated Gadiel Baez from third, who had reached on a walk earlier in the inning, for a 5-4 victory.
“It felt good,” Phillips said after getting his first win as a manager. “I still can’t believe I’m a professional baseball manager. I want to thank the team for playing hard. They got me that first win.”
Regardless of who the manager has been, the Admirals (12-17) have had a knack for comebacks all season long. They were down 4-2 in the 9th, before the “Rally Admirals” had one of their comebacks for the first time under Phillips’ watch.
Lydell Moseby lead off the inning reaching on an error by Pittsburg shortstop Thomas Shull. An Alian Silva single was followed by Baez’ walk, before right fielder Tim Williams hit a two-RBI single to plate Moseby and Silva, tying the game 4-4.
Williams and Baez advanced to second and third respectively on the throw home, and the Diamonds intentionally walked Darian Sanford to load the bases, bringing up Gerald Bautista with the bases loaded and nobody out. Bautista almost won the game himself, but his fly ball to right wasn’t deep enough to plate Baez on a sac fly, nor shallow enough to drop for a hit. That set up Phillips for the poetic drama of the walk-off winner.
The Diamonds (14-15) had taken a 4-2 lead in the top of the eighth when Shull hit a two-run homer off of reliever Wendall Floranus to break a 2-2 tie.
The Admirals were down early in the game 1-0 after Shull drove in Mike Taylor from second, who lead off the second inning with a walk.
Vallejo answered in the third as Baez reached after a throwing error by Pittsburg catcher Nick Oddo on a wild third strike, and Williams reached on a error by pitcher Rob Ellis. Bautista drove in Baez with an RBI ground out to tie it at 1-1.
The Admirals took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Silva drove home Joseph Hicks with an RBI triple. Hicks had doubled earlier in the inning.
Josh Evans notched a quality start, going six plus innings and allowing just one earned run while striking out seven and walking only one.
Luis Ferreras got the win by pitching the ninth and allowing just one hit and no runs.
The rubber match of the series is set for a 1:05 first pitch with now pitcher and pitching coach Roman Gomez on the mound.