By Gabe Schapiro
Sonoma, CA – The Vallejo Admirals (8-11) couldn’t overcome a multitude of mental mistakes and defensive miscues, falling to the Sonoma Stompers (14-3), 10-3, Tuesday Night, at Arnold Park.
The Admirals offense could never get going, being held to just three hits by Stompers starter Eric Schwieger, and their defense kicked the ball around to the tune of seven errors. Meanwhile, eight-of-nine Sonoma starters finished the game with at least one hit, while playing flawlessly in the field.
The contest had a promising start for Vallejo.
After falling behind early in each of the last three games against Sonoma, the Admirals turned the tide and struck first. The second batter of the game, PJ Phillips, went after the first pitch he saw and sent it over the left field wall for a solo shot.
“He’s been our most consistent hitter throughout the season,” said manager Garry Templeton II on his first baseman. “He’s a professional hitter. He comes up and gives you a good at bat every time he steps to the plate.”
The Stompers half of the inning, however, would prove to be the more accurate foreshadowing for the Admirals night. Fehlandt Lentini led off by reaching on an error. He advanced to third on a single and wild pitch, and then came around to score on a ground out by Joel Carranza.
In the second inning, Sonoma loudly grabbed their first lead, which they would never relinquish. The first two men up, Daniel Baptista and TJ Gavlik, went back-to-back, sending home runs over the left-center field and right field walls respectively.
Vallejo did their best to keep it interesting, and once again it was Phillips with the crucial play. Juan Martinez led off the third inning with a double, and then stole third base. Phillips stepped to the plate, and like the professional hitter that he is, just made contact and hit the ball the other way, allowing Martinez to score on his ground out. Phillip’s second RBI brought the Admirals back to within one run, down 3-2.
In the fourth, however, the Admirals defense let them down again. Baptista reached on a throwing error by Martinez to lead off the inning, and then promptly scampered to third on an errant pick off attempt by Vallejo starter Devon Ramirez. Gavlik plated Baptista with a sac fly, giving the Stompers the run back just two batters into the inning, without the use of a base hit.
“A lot of it at this point are just mental mistakes,” said Templeton of his team’s defensive woes. “Some of these guys are young, and they’re getting a crash course on the things you need to be able to do to play professional baseball. We expect them to come in knowing some of these things, and they haven’t been playing like they do. So that’s a big area that we need to improve on, the mental side of the game. If we catch the ball and just get a little situational hitting we’re going to be okay.”
The Stompers started to pull away in the sixth, as they continued to capitalize on the Admirals miscues.
With Gavlik on first, Matt Hibbert sent a line drive single to left field. Brad Young charged it, but in the process let the ball shoot by him. The error allowed Gavlik to score from first, and Hibbert to advance to second. He stole third base, and then scored on a ground ball that shortstop Glenn Walker couldn’t handle. Thanks to the pair of errors, Sonoma had been given a 6-2 lead.
The tough-luck Ramirez didn’t make it through the inning, being pulled after Gavlik reached base.
“Other than the two solo shots that he gave up I thought that he did pretty well,” said Templeton. “He has continued to improve with every start, he just hasn’t had the chips fall his way yet. We just have to keep plugging away with him and give him more support.”
Vallejo put up one last fight in the seventh, before running themselves into outs. Jordan Hinshaw and Kale Sumner led off the inning with a walk and hit by pitch. Young doubled down the left field line, scoring Hinshaw from second. Sumner also tried to come around, but was easily thrown out at the plate. Young was then thrown out trying to advance to third on a ground ball, followed by a Martinez ground out to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the seventh, the Stompers hammered in the final nail in the Admirals coffin. Sonoma batted around for the second time in as many games, sending 10 men to the plate on their way to four more runs, making it 10-3.
After the air had seemingly been let out of their tires, Vallejo went down in order over the last two innings, sealing the Stompers victory.
The Admirals will try to get back in the win column tonight, as they send pitching coach and pitcher Demetrius Banks to the mound, in game two of this three-game set. The action gets underway at 6:00 PM.