SONOMA, Calif. – The Sonoma Stompers rolled right through their off day Monday into Tuesday night against the Vallejo Admirals, crushing three home runs to top the defending league champions 9-7.
With former Oakland Athletics outfielder Eric Byrnes in attendance, Sonoma center fielder Marcus Bradley made a catch reminiscent of many of those Byrnes made with the A’s, going into a leaping dive in left-center field to record an out in the second inning.
The highlight-reel play was an omen of good things to come for the Stompers in all facets of the game.
Neither team recorded a hit in the first three innings, with Sonoma’s Vijay Patel recording five strikeouts and retiring his first 10 batters working into the fourth.
Patel encountered struggles after loading the bases and giving up a grand slam that gave Vallejo a lead, but settled down to retire his next seven batters and eight of following nine.
“I had control of my fastball on both sides of the plate, that was really helpful,” Patel said. “I also had my slider working, so that was helpful to have a little bit of lateral movement. And great defense behind me, great bats behind me too.”
The right-hander pitched into the seventh, striking out 10 Admirals with just three hits allowed over 6.2 innings. Seven of those strikeouts came on the first batter of each of his first seven innings.
“I was really focusing on getting ahead,” he said. “These guys can swing it, so it brings a level of intensity, a level of play. You have to bring your best otherwise these guys are going to bang out.”
Picking up his fifth win of the season, Patel was aided by an offense that helped him recover well from the fourth inning grand slam. The Stompers scored eight runs between the fourth and fifth innings on three home runs and a double.
Miles Williams connected for his 13th long ball of the season in the fourth, a solo shot that led off the frame. Rob DeAngelis and Daniel Comstock doubled back-to-back to bring in another run, then after Kenny Meimerstorf walked, Kevin Farley hit his third home run of the season, giving Sonoma 5-4 advantage.
Kam Stewart launched his sixth homer of the season to left field in the fifth inning, a three run shot that furthered Sonoma’s lead and put the game firmly out of reach for Vallejo.
Kenny Matthews and Jacob Cox combined for 2.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen as Sonoma held on in the ninth to win 9-7 and Cox picked up his 13th save of the year, more than double the number of the next closest pitcher in the Pacific Association.
The Stompers look for a series sweep and their fifth straight win Wednesday against the Admirals, first pitch at 6:05 p.m.