Hayley M. Slye / Media Director
SONOMA, Calif.– The Sonoma Stompers Professional Baseball Club, presented by Virginia Dare Winery, fell just short of the 2017 Pacific Association championship in Friday’s one-game playoff against the Vallejo Admirals on Friday.
“Anything goes in a one-game playoff,” said center fielder Matt Hibbert. “It doesn’t take anything away from the season we had or the guys in the clubhouse.”
The Admirals plated a seemingly-insurmountable five runs off of Sonoma starter Ty’Relle Harris and reliever Logan Gillaspie in the fourth to take a 9-1 lead. By the eighth, the Stompers had cut an eight-run lead to one.
“It’s just a testament to the guys we have in the clubhouse and in the dugout. There’s never any quit in our mind. We were down 9-1, I knew we just had to start chipping away. We got pretty close but just came up a little bit short. That’s the game of baseball sometimes,” Hibbert said.
Sonoma starter Ty’Relle Harris allowed six earned runs through three and a third innings, but the Stompers did not give up. Taking advantage of a handful of singles and using some small ball, Sonoma responded with four runs in the fifth and continued to snip at the lead.
Sonoma scored another run in the sixth, making the score 9-7. GIllaspie dealt in the two middle innings, retiring the Admirals in order. In the seventh, Pugh lead off with a single off of Gillaspie. Gillaspie responded with three straight strikeouts.
“He just goes out there and competes,” Hibbert said. “He kind of kept us in the game and kept them from scoring any more runs. Kid’s got a bright future for sure.”
A solo home run from Chris Fornaci in the eighth put the Admirals up 10-8 and knocked Gillaspie out of the game, but the 20-year-old struck out seven in four innings.
Vallejo plated another run in the ninth on a sac fly, putting the Stompers down three runs in the ninth.
Five different Stompers recorded multiple hits in the game. Derrick Fox went 3 for 5, driving in two. Fox was at the plate in the last at bat of the game, working Diaz for nine pitches and battling to keep the game alive. Diaz won the battle.
“We never gave up. It shows me what type of team we are. I’m just so proud of my team and my players,” said manager Takashi Miyoshi.
The Stompers end the season having set a Pacific Association record for wins in a season at 52-26. They also reached several other milestones, including manager Takashi MIyoshi earning his 100th since being named manager midway through 2015. Joel Carranza set the Pacific Association record for career home runs. Stacy Piagno became one of just three women to record a win in an American men’s professional baseball league since the 1950’s.
“This season, we have done a great job. It comes down to a one-game playoff and it can go either way,” Miyoshi said. “We have nothing to be ashamed of… I just want to say thank you to everybody”