Geoff Safford, Media Relations Assistant
Back and forth they went on a Friday night at Albert Park. There was no margin for error as the Stompers battled the Pacifics for their first ever Pacific Association championship. Friday’s battle was a fitting exclamation point to a record breaking season as the Stomper bullpen held the line in a 5-4 win over San Rafael to clinch the franchises’ first ever Pacific Association Championship.
The Stomper bullpen pitched 5 1/3 innings scoreless innings in relief of Oliver Garcia to set the tone for the Stompers victory. Ryan Richardson pitched 3 1/3 scoreless striking out three batters. Richardson allowed only one base runner and retired eight in a row during one stretch. Adam Ogburn and Jose Flores polished things off in the final two innings to give the Stompers the victory. Flores struck out Brent Gillespie to record the final out of the game. Flores recorded the final out with the bases loaded. It was a fitting exclamation point to a second half that saw Sonoma fight back from adversity.
Sonoma was once 7-10 in the second half and was searching for answers. Manager Takashi Miyoshi challenged the team when they fell to that mark in a team meeting. It was not a despite cry for them to play better, but a challenge to play the way he knew they were capable.
“I never had a doubt about my 23 of my guys, and knew that they were focused on winning,” said manager Takashi Miyoshi. “Ever since we lost in the championship game last year I thought about bringing a championship back to Sonoma. Doing that would mean making history. I am so happy we made our fans happy, and this title means a lot to me.”
Miyoshi lead the Stompers to their first title in his first full season as manager. The Stompers have won a franchise record 46 games in their third season of action. Miyoshi also became the first manager to win both the first and second half titles in the history of the Pacific Association.
The Stomper offense battled back from an early two run deficit in the third with a three run inning Friday. Scott David hit his fourth home run of the season to drive in two in the inning. David was 2 for 4 with four driven in on the night.
The success of the offense was key to their second half run. The Stompers hold a 17-5 mark in the month of August and the offense has scored in double digits in seven of those contests. Sonoma also defeated the defending champion Pacifics seven straight times in the month of August. After three years, the Stompers were finally able to get over the hump.
“This is the most complete team we have had in Sonoma in the three years that we have been here. We have a core of players like Matt Hibbert, and Joel Carranza that have been here since the very beginning,” said General Manager Theo Fightmaster. “They had scar tissue from the near misses in years past and were galvanized that they would not leave anything to doubt this season. It is a really cool feeling to finally achieve the goal that we have been trying to get to for three years.”
When the final out was recorded Friday it was far from a silent at Albert Park as a large contingent of the Stompers faithful followed the team to San Rafael to witness the moment. The fans had supported this team through so much through the season, and were rewarded with a title Friday. “Our fans made more noise on the road in an echoing ballpark than the locals did tonight and that is just the passion they bring to our ballpark every night,” said Fightmaster.
After the lights went out Friday the celebration had just begun and for good reason as they have made their mark on not only the franchise, but on the entire Sonoma community. The Stompers (46-30, 23-14 second half) have two games remaining in this magical season at Albert Park.