By Evan Giddings
Vallejo , CA– Coming into the night, the Vallejo Admirals (5-8) desperately needed a win to keep pace in the second half of the 2015 Pacific Association standings and with that weight resting on their shoulders, they shrugged it off to grind out a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
“We needed this win to basically stay in the race,” said last night’s starting pitcher Devon Ramirez. “If we lose that one then we have a big hill to climb, so getting this win gets us back to where we’re supposed to be contending for the second half.”
What made the close victory especially sweet was it came against the San Rafael Pacifics (6-7) who took all three games from the Admirals earlier in the week.
“Its always big to get a W,” said catcher Tyler Nordgren. “But we just got swept so to come back to hold on to a tight game is important.”
The Admirals battery set the tone early on, with Nordgren getting arguably the biggest hit of the night and Ramirez arguably twirling his best gem all season.
Vallejo’s starter went six and a third innings, surrendering only one unearned run, while striking out a season-high eight batters and at one point retiring ten Pacfics in a row.
“I’ve slowly come to learn that for me, I just got to stay mentally in it,” said Ramirez. “I just need to do my job and focus on whoever is in the batters box.”
His offense came from his catcher in the fourth inning, when Nordgren delivered a one-out line drive double that carried over the head of San Rafael center fielder Zack Pace, allowing Josh Wong and Lydell Moseby to come across, giving Vallejo a 2-1 advantage.
“I made sure to hone in on the fastball and I made sure not to get too jumpy at the plate,” said Nordgren. “With one out we got to get something in play and I was fortunate enough to barrel it up and it got over the center fielders head.”
With the Admirals pitching and offense doing its part, it was up to the defense to make a play and with two outs in the top of the seventh inning and the tying run on second base, Kyle Hayman did just that.
San Rafael’s Matt Chavez sent a broken bat bleeder over the head of Vallejo third baseman Glenn Walker into no mans land down the left field line. In a dead sprint, Hayman took off towards the chalk and in one motion gloved the ball and fired a one-hop strike to the chest of Nordgren who applied the tag at home plate to David Kiriakos to end the threat.
“I was actually telling the guys that I was going to hose somebody,” Hayman joked after the game. “I felt good and threw it with everything I had, but I was just fortunate to make a play for the team.”
What was the biggest play of the night carried over to the bottom half as shortstop Gadiel Baez added an insurance run – after leading off with a double – scoring on a gutsy head first slide into home plate off a wild pitch.
That proved to be the difference, as the Pacifics would tack on another run in the eighth and draw within one, the closest they got all night.
Admiral closer Bryan Escanio came in to shut the door with a one, two, three ninth inning, recording his 10th save of the season and securing a less-than-graceful victory for Vallejo.
“Hey, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how pretty, how close, how big of win it is, as long as you get a W,” said Nordgren. “We got to find a way to keep the ball rolling and continue to get wins.”
And tonight marked a direction for the team that manager Gary Templeton II believes will continue to produce positive results. “Pitching and defense needed to be there and it showed up for us tonight in a big way,” he said. “This win showed we can battle and hold a lead.”
The Admirals will try and continue in that positive direction tonight at Wilson Park with Nick Flory on the bump. First pitch is set for 5:05pm.