Hayley M. Slye / Sonoma Stompers
SONOMA, Calif.– The Sonoma Stompers Professional Baseball Club, presented by Virginia Dare Winery, welcomed former Major League Most Valuable Player and three-time World Series Champion Vida Blue prior to Wednesday night’s matchup with the Vallejo Admirals.
Blue played 17 years in the Major Leagues for teams including the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. He was part of the A’s team that won three consecutive World Series titles in 1972-74 and won both the MVP and the Cy Young Award in 1971.
Before the game, Blue met with the Stompers team to answer questions and share insight from his illustrious baseball career.
“He’s a force in the game. He’s a big name. It was just an honor to even have him in our presence and come talk to us,” said Stompers shortstop Derrick Fox. “It was a joy to meet him.”
Blue also threw the first pitch, a strike, and signed autographs for fans.
STOMPERS DOWNED BY ADMIRALS
Later in the night, the Admirals defeated the Stompers 7-3 in part with a pair of two-run homers.
The Admirals, who finished in last at the end of the first half, have caught fire in the second and sit just one game back of the league-leading Stompers.
Fox also caught fire, but for Sonoma. Fox knocked two base hits on Wednesday, one of which was a solo shot to right in the third. It was Fox’s first home run as a Stomper since returning to the team this season.
“I was just looking for something to drive, really just trying to get on base at that point in the game,” Fox said. “When I hit it, I kind of knew it was gone.”
The Admirals also made noise early with the long ball. Mike Blank went yard in the first, driving in two Vallejo runs. Sonoma starter Scott Plaza struck out eight in six innings of work, allowing four earned runs.`
The Stompers offense steadied in the later innings. By the end of the night, all but two Stompers had a hit. Fox and Matt Hibbert, who celebrated a birthday on Wednesday, both recorded a pair of hits while Brennan Metzger extended a hitting streak to 11 games.
“We had good approaches, we stayed positive throughout the whole game. I feel like we’ve just got to come out and play hard and just keep upping the intensity,” Fox said.
It was a two-run home run in the ninth that solidified the win for Vallejo. With Graylin Derke on base, Quintin Rohrbaugh homered to make the score 7-2. The Stompers answered with one run in the bottom of the frame, but did not overcome the five-run lead.
With the loss, the Stompers drop to 40-19 on the season and 12-8 in the second half while the Admirals climb to 23-36 overall, 11-9 in the second half. Since they won the first half title, if the Stompers finish in first place in the second half they will be the outright champions.
“I love being out here in Sonoma. I love having this jersey on my back,” Fox said. “I came out here just to try to get another championship for this organization.”
ON DECK AT THE BALLPARK
The last game of the series is slated to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday night, which will also feature a pre-game ceremony for Japanese Heritage Night and a book signing from Ila Borders biographer Jean Ardell.
Ardell will be selling and signing copies of the book she and Borders wrote together, “Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey.”
Tickets and merchandise are available now either online or at the fan shop at 234 W Napa Street in downtown Sonoma. Tickets will also be available at the box office on game days, beginning 30 minutes prior to the game.
For more information, please contact the front office at 707-938-7277, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.