Geoff Safford, Media Relations Assistant
Even with it being early on in the second half, this game had a lot at stake for both the Pacifcs, and the Stompers. Both teams entered with identical 2-1 records, and both had their own aspirations for success after Sonoma took the first half title.
San Rafael did not finish the first half strong, but the Stompers toughest opponent over the last two seasons has been the Pacifics. They are the defending champions, and the Stompers struggled against them in the first half. To be the best, you have to beat the best, and Sonoma has yet to find a consistent winning formula against the Pacifcs.
Like a few games this season against the Pacifics, the game was tight headed to the final inning of play. Sonoma trailed by a run going into their final at-bats. But J.R. Bunda was too much for the Stompers to handle as the right-hander shut down the Stompers to preserve the 5-4 win for San Rafael at Albert Park on Tuesday night. It was Bunda’s eighth save of the season, as he got the final four outs to end the ball game. The first out ended up being the one with most riding on it, as he got a groundout with the bases loaded to keep San Rafael in front.
Sonoma had their opportunities to win the ballgame, but a few costly mistakes and a controversial call made a huge difference in this game. Sean Conroy made two uncharacteristic errors on the mound on pick off attempts. His second error in the fourth led to a run for the Pacifics.
Sonoma’s offense also stranded 10 runners in the game. Mark Hurley and Mason Morioka were the only two Stompers who finished with multiple hits, as Hurley was 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI. Morioka was 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
In the fourth inning, a threat was brought to an end on a controversial call. Yuki Yasuda hit a sharp ground ball with the bases loaded to Jake Taylor who threw to first from his knees. Yasuda and the Stompers thought he beat the throw and was safe but was called out by the field umpire. Yasuda kneeled on the field afterword in disbelief.
That call was a huge moment in the ballgame and could have gone either way. But bench coach Chris Mathews understood that they could not attribute that play alone to the loss. “You can never pick out one play or call and blame a loss on that alone. We made mistakes in this game that put us in this situation. Yes the call was controversial, but we cannot say that was the reason that we lost,” said Mathews.
Celson Polanco picked up his fourth win of the season and his second against the Stompers with a great outing for the Pacifcs. Polanco allowed two runs, five hits, walked two, and struck out 9 in his six innings. An 11-year professional, the veteran did what he did best to defeat the Stompers. “I have played with and against Polanco and he really challenges a lineup. He challenged us with fast balls early in the count, and when he got ahead he knew when to pull the string with the off speed stuff,” said Mathews.
The Stompers (25-18) won’t have much time to dwell on this loss as they will play in a rare weekday day game Wednesday afternoon starting at 12:30 against the Pacifics (24-19). Oliver Garcia is scheduled to get the start coming off a finger injury he suffered on July 10. The Stompers will have a chance to even the race for the second half pennant with a victory. “We need to come out more aggressive, and take it to them, rather than let the Pacifics come at us. We need to stick to our approach and play the game the way we know we can,” said Mathews.
Tickets for upcoming Stompers games are available on StompersBaseball.com. Gear for fans, and tickets are also available inside The Fan Shop located at 234 West Napa Street. For more information, contact the Stompers front office at firstname.lastname@example.org.