Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
The first series of 2016 didn't start off well, but by the end of Thursday night's 7-3 victory over the Vallejo Admirals, the Sonoma Stompers looked like a team coming together in all facets, as another staunch bullpen performance backed up good approaches at the plate.
After seven walks and two HBPs in Wednesday's victory, the Stompers drew six more walks in the series finale, chasing Vallejo's starter Anthony Seise after only two innings. Even though Seise got a couple of double play balls to get out of jams, the Stompers still got two runs due to Seise's tendency to get wild and Vallejo's continued defensive issues.
The Admirals had 13 errors in all during the series, and the first of Thursday's game came on a single down the right field line by Eddie Mora-Loera. A run came in as the ball took its first hop, but it got away from Vallejo right fielder Derrick Phillips, with the error allowing a second run to score on the play.
Sonoma also scored twice in the third and fourth innings, with Daniel Baptista coming through with a pair of run-scoring hits. He plated two with a single in the third and brought home a third run in the fourth, completing a six run blitz that put the Stompers ahead for good.
For the second straight night, a Stompers starter couldn't get out of the fifth, as Gregory Paulino started running out of gas in the inning and was pulled after allowing two runs and two more runners to get on.
Going to the bullpen, Takashi Miyoshi called on rookie Juan Espinosa, who allowed one of the inherited runners to score on the first pitch of his pro career before getting out of the inning with a double play.
He followed with two scoreless innings, giving way to Matt Picucci in the eighth. Sonoma's lone southpaw allowed a walk but struck out two against four consecutive right-handed hitters.
The ninth belonged to Austin Delmotte, who came in guns blazing in the low 90's, blowing away the bottom third of Vallejo's order on three consecutive strikeouts to end the game. Sonoma's bullpen has now thrown nine consecutive shutout innings, striking out 14 batters between four pitchers.
Offensively, Mora-Loera and Ethan Szabo each had two hits. Derrick Fox went 1 for 3 with a walk and three runs scored. He has now reached base in seven of his last 10 plate appearances. Mark Hurley added two walks and his first hit of 2016, as well.
Sonoma now moves on to Pittsburg for the weekend, who just took two out of three games from the defending champion San Rafael Pacifics. Mike Jackson, Jr. will start for Sonoma, who will look to break their first place tie with the Diamonds. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
The Stompers home opener is only a few days away, as Sonoma will host Vallejo on Tuesday, June 7 at 6 p.m. Tickets are available online at StompersBaseball.com and can be purchased both at the Stompers Fan Shop at 234 West Napa Street and at the Arnold Field box office before any home game. For more information, call (707) 938-7277 or email the team at info@StompersBaseball.com.