By Matt O’Donnell Vallejo Times Herald Sports Editor
For some reason, the Vallejo Admirals enjoy beating the San Rafael Pacifics.
They also seem to take pleasure in rallying back from large deficits.
The Admirals did both on Tuesday night, breaking a four-game losing streak with an 11-8 win over their Highway 37 rivals to open a Pacific Association series at Wilson Park.
Vallejo (8-11) trailed 8-3 after three innings but chipped away, tying the game with a three-run seventh and going ahead with a three-run eighth. Third baseman Jackson Valera had the go-ahead hit, knocking in Darian Sandford by bouncing a single up the middle in the eighth.
“We had a runner on third and we needed to score,” said Valera of the hit against San Rafael reliever Clint Manzo “I tried to keep my swing closed and tight. He threw a good pitch.”
Valera, the league’s leading hitter, was 4-for-5 with five RBIs. He is now hitting .451.
Vallejo manager Mike Samuels tried to put his finger on why the Admirals like to rally back so much this season.
“You know, they don’t like to lose and they close hard,” Samuels said. “The last few games, we’ve been falling off a little bit with hitting but it comes around. They also don’t like to disappoint me or disappoint my coaches. They like to please us, please themselves and play this game correctly.”
After Valera’s single in the eighth, shortstop Raul Navarro had a big hit as well, with a single to center to score P.J. Phillips and Valera to make it 11-8.
Admirals first baseman Lydell Moseby had the game-tying hit in the seventh with a two-run single to center to score Wilfredo Petit and Navarro against reliever Brandon Warner. The bouncer up the middle resembled Valera’s hit in the eighth.
Moseby, who was 3-for-5, has been in the middle of several of Vallejo’s late rallies this season.
“Honestly, I like it; I enjoy the pressure,” Moseby said. “I just tried to take it every pitch at a time and just try and focus on getting the guy in and try and help out the team.”
Vallejo’s bullpen was a star in this one as well. Wendell Floranus pitched 4 1/3 outstanding shutout innings in relief of starter Kida De La Cruz. Winning pitcher Justin Hertzmann (1-1) pitched a spotless eighth, aided by standout defensive plays from second baseman Gadiel Baez and right fielder Tim Williams.
Hard-throwing Joe Watson allowed two walks to open the ninth but retired the final three batters for his second save.
For a while, the game looked like it might be the Admirals’ fifth straight loss.
The Pacifics (10-8) trailed 3-1 but scored seven times in the third inning — all with two outs against De La Cruz, making his second start. De La Cruz hit Maikel Jova and Brent Gillespie with pitches with the bases loaded as San Rafael tied the game 3-3.
John Giakas followed with a two-run single to give his team a 5-3 lead and then catcher Ricky Gingras crushed a three-run homer over the right field fence to make it 8-3 and chase De La Cruz from the game.
The Admirals scored three times in the bottom of the first to lead 3-1. Williams was hit by a pitch from Patrick Conroy during a 12-pitch at-bat to lead off the inning, and Sandford singled. Both runners moved up to second and third on Phillips’ fly ball and Valera followed with a two-run single to left to score Williams and the speedy Sandford, who beat the throw from left fielder Johnny Bekakis.
Down by five runs, the Admirals made it 8-5 in the bottom of the third when Valera doubled past third baseman Jake Taylor to score Sandford and Phillips. Sandford had doubled to lead off the inning and Phillips reached on an error.
Notes: The Admirals had 18 hits overall. Seven of the nine starters had at least two hits. … Vallejo has won two series this season, both against the Pacifics. … For the first time this year, Williams and Sandford hit 1-2 in the order. They were a combined 4-for-8 with four runs scored. … Vallejo City Council hopeful Vernon Williams III threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Wednesday’s game is “Italian Heritage Night” at Wilson Park.