By Thomas Gase, Vallejo Times-Herald
A year ago the Vallejo Admirals had an August for the ages as they won eight of their first nine games in the month on the way to winning the Pacific Association championship.
This year the Admirals first game of the month was one they’d like to quickly forget.
Vallejo was stifled by Pittsburg starting pitcher Corey Macdonald, who gave up just four hits and no runs in seven innings on the way to a 9-3 Diamonds victory. Macdonald didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning.
“My changeup was working tonight,” Macdonald said. “It was nice to get strikes from that and the fastball. I had a good mixup of speeds and I think that kept the batters off balance.”
Admirals manager P.J. Phillips once again juggled the lineup, hoping to find the right recipe to get the Admirals bats going. In the two-game series against Pittsburg, Vallejo was outscored 22-6.
“We’re not hitting right now and we’re going through something,” Phillips said, shaking his head. “Just a bad string with no hits. We need to play better on both sides of the ball. We need pitching and hitting. We need more timely hitting and we need to throw better strikes.”
The Diamonds wasted no time giving Macdonald a lead as they scored two runs off Vallejo starter Peter Reyes in the first. Joel Carranza had an RBI single to score Brett Smith, and Rafael Valera had an RBI groundout that plated Morgan Blatnik.
Pittsburg continued its offensive attack in the top of third, as the Diamonds had four consecutive two-out hits to increase their lead to 5-0. Ryan Lashley had a two-run double while Chris Kwitzer followed it moments later with an RBI single to center.
Kwitzer didn’t slow down his offensive ways in the fifth inning, as he collected his third hit of the game on a double off the wall in center. The extra base hit drove home two more runs to make it 7-0.
That was more than enough offense for Macdonald, as he departed after seven shutout innings with a big lead.
“I’d like to say I pretend it’s 0-0 at that point, but it takes a lot of pressure off when your guys are hitting well,” Macdonald said. “They came up huge with the bats tonight and that allowed me to be a little more aggressive and fill up the strike zone.”
Meanwhile his opposing starting pitcher, Reyes, a Benicia High graduate, pitched five innings and gave up 11 hits and seven earned runs.
Tim Holmes entered in relief for the Admirals in the sixth, but the Diamonds’ offense kept pounding away. With one out Bracamonte had a sacrifice fly to right to give Pittsburg an 8-0 lead. Pittsburg would increase the lead again in the eighth to make it 9-0.
The Admirals were glad to see Macdonald leave after seven. Once he was relieved in the eighth by Alex Leach Vallejo finally got on the scoreboard, first with a solo home run to left by David Kiriakos, and then a few moments later with a two-run long ball from Chris Fornaci that made it 9-3. Fornaci had three hits on the night, but the rest of the team could only collect four more.
After giving up three runs to start the eighth Leach settled down soon after, as he struck out the next three batters to limit the damage. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning as well as Pittsburg earned the sweep.
With the loss Vallejo fell to 28-26 and nine games out of first place. Sonoma, which defeated San Rafael on Wednesday night, is now tied for first with the Pacifics for the top spot.
Meanwhile, Phillips is hoping Vallejo can turn things around in August like his team did last year.
“Yeah we’re hoping that, but that was last year,” the Admirals manager said. “At the end of the day we try and win every game. We know the light at the end of the tunnel is coming and that we need to play better baseball.”