Tim Livingston, Assistant GM, Baseball Ops & Media
The Sonoma Stompers have seen the San Rafael Pacifics take two straight championships. 2014 saw them on the cusp of a first half title, only to be swept in San Rafael needing to win one game to clinch before fading away in the second half. Of course, the 2015 championship was lost on the final pitch of the season to the Pacifics, meaning that ever since the Stompers have arrived, the Pacifics have seemingly had Sonoma's number.
It has been the case again this season, as after Sonoma's 7-2 loss to San Rafael on Thursday night, the Stompers were swept for the first time all season and lost their ninth game out of 12 against the Pacifics in 2016. As good as the Stompers were in the first half of the year to hold off charges by both the Pacifics and the Pittsburg Diamonds to take their second straight first half title, it seems like San Rafael is trying to make 2015 happen all over again.
The Pacifics know that a good second half is their only path to the title, and even then, it would be a one-game playoff like last season. A coin flip in the truest sense of the word, the Stompers know it as well, as they're looking to run the table and win their first title outright. However, in their nine losses against the Pacifics, the most common of themes has been self-defeat.
Whether it has been errors, bad situational hitting, or like tonight, not being able to attack a pitcher who was in the zone most of the night (Winning pitcher Patrick Barnett threw 79 strikes in 112 pitches) the Stompers have not been able to get this particular monkey off their collective backs.
What's good news for the Stompers is that they have 15 of their final 33 games against the Pacifics, meaning San Rafael has to go through Sonoma in order to set up the championship game. Sonoma also has 20 games remaining at People's Home Equity Ballpark, which means the rest of the way, it's favorable for Sonoma to bounce back against their rivals.
Offensively, Sonoma scattered eight hits, with outfielder Cody Bishop leading the way going 3 for 4 with an RBI. Eddie Mora-Loera had two hits and an RBI, as well. Derrick Fox had two hits and his team best 17th stolen base of the season.
Gregory Paulino (3-3) was a bit off his game tonight, only going five innings and allowing four runs after completely shutting down the Pacifics in his last start against them back on July 3. He gave up a two-run homer to Ricky Gingras in the fourth, which proved to be the hit that put the Pacifics ahead for good.
Stacy Piagno pitched the last two innings for the Stompers and held the Pacifics scoreless, allowing only a walk and a single. While she made her fourth appearance of the season tonight (and her first out of the bullpen), she'll be watching like everyone else on Friday night when history gets made at People's Home Equity Ballpark.
Kelsie Whitmore will get her first start of 2016 on Friday night and she'll have a familiar face behind the plate catching her, as US Women's National Team star Anna Kimbrell will make her debut with the team to form pro baseball's first all-female battery since the days of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League over half a century ago.
First pitch is set for 6 p.m., with the gates opening at 5:15 p.m. Tickets are available online at StompersBaseball.com and can be purchased before the game at the Arnold Field box office. For more information, contact the Stompers by calling (707) 938-7277 or by email at info@StompersBaseball.com.