Geoff Safford, Media Relations Assistant
Taylor Thurber has been a sure thing in his three starts since being moved into the rotation. The Stompers were trying to win a series Sunday after starting the week with four straight losses. Thurber had his best stuff Sunday and effectively moved his way through the Diamonds lineup. But that did not tell the entire story in this game.
Thurber ran into trouble in the third inning when Thomas Shull doubled off the left field wall to begin the inning in a scoreless game. Shadows often are tough to deal with at Arnold Field during these summer evenings. Both Thurber and Diamonds starter Chris Cummins took advantage of the shadows and pitched beautifully. But one play involving the shadows proved to be the difference in the game.
John Contreras followed Shull and launched a ball out to right field that was hit well but seemed to be playable for Mark Hurley. However, the unforgiving shadows of Arnold Field blinded Hurley’s view and the ball got down for a double. Another run scored in the inning on an RBI groundout by Andrew Rubalcava to give the Diamonds a 2-0 lead. Sonoma’s bats could not fight back from the early deficit and dropped the series finale by a score of 2-1.
Sonoma doubled up the Diamonds in the hit category and finished with 8 in the game. But the Stompers often could not string hits together as the only Stompers that finished with multiple hits were Matt Hibbert and Joel Carranza. Hibbert and Carranza were also responsible for the only run that came to the plate as Carranza knocked in Hibbert on a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Hibbert was 2 for 4 and Carranza was 2 for 3.
The two double plays induced by Chris Cummins were a big reason why Sonoma could not get going. He also used his pickoff move well to keep Stompers runners honest. The lefty went seven innings strong, allowing seven hits and striking out six to pick up his fifth win of the year. Submarine-style pitcher Garrett Granitz followed Cummins and got credit for a six out save for his two innings of work out of the pen.
Thurber threw his second consecutive complete game and was outstanding even in a losing effort. He pitched the full nine innings and gave up only four hits and a walk while striking out nine. Thurber has only allowed 4 earned runs in his last 26 innings pitched, and has been as good as any starter since being moved into the rotation, accumulating a 2.20 ERA in his four starts.
The next six games could decide the Stompers fate in the second half race. They are facing the San Rafael Pacifics in a week-long series starting Tuesday at Arnold Field. Sonoma (26-22) has struggled against the Pacifics so far this season going 3-9 against them, and they trail the Pacifics (28-20) by four games in the second half standings. If Sonoma’s struggles continue next week against San Rafael, they will probably see their chances of a second half pennant slip through their fingers. But the Stompers will have a good opportunity to get off on the right foot Tuesday with the ace Sean Conroy scheduled to start against San Rafael.
Tickets for Stompers home contests are available on StompersBaseball.com. Fan Merchandise, and tickets are also available inside The Fan Shop located at 234 West Napa Street in Sonoma. For more information on the team, contact the Stompers at firstname.lastname@example.org