By Matt O’Donnell, Vallejo Times-Herald
Home Run Derby isn’t scheduled until later this summer at Wilson Park but the Sonoma Stompers staged their own version of it on Wednesday night.
The Stompers crushed three long balls — two of those no-doubters — and knocked off the Vallejo Admirals 8-3 to sweep a two-game Pacific Association series. All three home runs came against losing pitcher Dalton Bernardi, who lost his first of the season in four tries.
It was the first time this season the Admirals were swept at home as well as the first time they have lost three in a row.
Vallejo was shut down by ex-Admiral Ethan Gibbons (3-0), the former Solano Community College ace. Gibbons allowed just five hits and two runs over six innings. He struck out five and walked three.
“He was just hitting his spots,” said Admirals shortstop David Kiriakos, who had two hits and drove in all three runs. “We were missing pitches. You just have to tip your hat to him. He did a good job.”
Sonoma’s designated hitter Daniel Comstock started the home run barrage with a two-run, opposite field shot over the right field wall in the first inning against Bernardi. Right fielder Vladimir Gomez barely moved as the ball sailed high over the wall.
Bernardi (3-1) went five innings, allowing seven hits and six earned runs.
The Admirals (10-7) used the long ball themselves in the bottom of the first to tie the game 2-2. Rian Kiniry walked and Kiriakos launched the first pitch he saw from Gibbons over the left-field fence. It was Kiriakos’ fourth homer of the season.
Sonoma (11-7), however, took the lead for good in the third on first baseman Daniel Baptista’s long, high-arcing, three-run homer over the right field fence for a 5-2 Stompers lead.
It wasn’t an especially warm night in Vallejo but Baptista’s blast carried well into the trees on the other side of the fence.
“I was looking for a fastball inside because he threw that previously,” said Baptista, a Vallejo native who attended Fairfield High School. “He gave it to me and I was prepared.”
Stompers left fielder Kenny Meimerstorf hit his league-leading seventh homer of the season in the fifth inning against Bernardi to make it 6-2.
The Stompers added two more in the sixth against Luis Ramirez as Gomez made two errors in the inning. One of the runs was unearned.
Vallejo did not answer again until the seventh when Chris Fornaci walked against reliever D.J. Sharabi, and Kiniry doubled to right on a ball that the Stomper outfielders lost in the lights. Fornaci then scored on Kiriakos’ ground ball.
For the second straight night, Sonoma’s bullpen shined, allowing just one hit over the final three innings.
The Admirals have a chance to break the mini losing skid on Thursday when they continue a suspended game against the Martinez Clippers from Saturday. Vallejo led 13-11 in the eighth inning in a game that was suspended due to a power outage. After that game has concluded, the Admirals and Clippers will play their scheduled nine-inning contest.
“We want to end the (skid) quickly but we have to get runners on base, we have to do a better job of hitting and hopefully we can get it rolling again,” Kiriakos said.
San Rafael and Sonoma are now tied for first place in the first half standings with Vallejo just a half-game back.
After losing last season’s league championship game to the Admirals, the Stompers shut down Vallejo in their first series of 2018. Vallejo heads to Sonoma on Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s just a competitive thing; we want to compete every single day,” Baptista said. “It doesn’t matter who’s on the field. It does matter a little bit that (Vallejo) beat us in the championship but no matter what uniform we’re facing, we just want to go out there, compete and have fun.”
Notes: Wednesday was Italian Heritage Night and included a pizza-eating contest before the fourth inning. Assistant general manager Matt Snyder took part but did not out-eat his competition … The earned run that Ramirez allowed in the sixth was the first one he has given up this season in 11 2/3 innings.