Geoff Safford, Media Relations Assistant
For the second time in the series the Stompers found themselves in a four run hole in the beginning of Thursday night's game. Jake Taylor continued his success from the previous night at the plate, and things were looking very bleak for the Stompers. Yet like Tuesday night's game, this particular game had many twists and turns, with the result coming down to the final inning.
The Pacifics and Stompers went into the bottom of the ninth tied after the Stompers once again mounted a comeback. Clint Manzo allowed two runners to reach, which brought in Pacifics closer JR Bunda. Bunda has been one of the toughest late inning relievers in the Pacific Association this season with 10 saves coming into the game. Uncharacteristically, Bunda walked Derrick Fox on four pitches to set up a bases loaded situation for the newly signed Randy Santiesteban. The Florida native sent all the fans home happy with a walk off single to left to give the Stompers a 6-5 win.
Playing in his first game for the Stompers, the shortstop definitely made sure that fans would remember his name with a great overall performance. He finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs and was great defensively at shortstop as well. “I am here for the team. I will to do whatever this team needs me to do to win,” Santiesteban said. “Whether it means sacrificing my body or an at bat, it’s just about winning. I already feel like I know all the guys on this team and will continue to fight for them,” Santiesteban said.
Another key element to this comeback victory was a sensational outing from Evan Neiser out of the bullpen for the Stompers. The deceptive left-hander threw 2 1/3 perfect innings to pick up his first victory out of the pen. Neiser was sensational in the series throwing 4 1/3 innings without allowing a baserunner.
Neiser went through the top of the Pacifics order in the ninth to give the Stompers the opportunity to win the game in the bottom half. Neiser knows who he is as a pitcher and pitched to his strengths well to help Sonoma secure a win. “For me it’s about locating the ball in the right spot and changing the speed so hitters don’t make solid contact,” Neiser said. “I want to put my strengths against other players’ weaknesses. For example, I saw Taylor had homered off of fastballs in the series so I tried to give him a pitch that looked like a fastball to get him to chase,” Neiser said.
The Stompers got on the comeback trail in the sixth and seventh innings with five runs to tie the game. Fox got the scoring started in the sixth with a double to knock in Caleb Bryson. Fox was 2 for 2 with three walks and a run scored reaching base in all five of his plate appearances. Bryson doubled home a run in the seventh and scored the tying run in that inning on a double steal. He finished 1 for 3 at the plate.
The Stompers now hits the road for a three game series against the Pacifcs. Mike Jackson Jr. is scheduled to pitch on Friday night and has been outstanding in his last three starts. The charter member of the Stompers is 2-0 with a 0.52 ERA in his last two outings, and has pitched into the ninth inning in each of his last three. A win Friday could bring the Stompers (28-23, 5-7 second half) within two games of the Pacifics (29-22, 8-4second half) in the second half standings.
Tickets for upcoming Stompers games are available on StompersBaseball.com. Stompers merchandise and tickets are also available inside The Fan Shop located at 234 West Napa Street in Sonoma. For more information about the Stompers, contact the Stompers front offices at email@example.com.