SONOMA, Calif- The magic number for the Sonoma Stompers was 2 heading into Wednesday night’s game against San Rafael, knowing that a win would give them an automatic birth to the Pacific Association Championship Series and home field advantage in the Series.
The Stompers got on the board first in the bottom of the 3rd inning against San Rafael starter Johnny Morell (1-2). Rob DeAngelis hit a sharp grounder to first baseman Axel Johnson who booted it for an error, then hit flip to the pitcher covering was wild for another error, allowing DeAngelis to go to second base on the play. Bronson Butcher was hit by a curveball and Rayson Romero walked to load the bases. With Nick Gotta at the plate, a wild pitch gave the Stompers the lead as DeAngelis slid in head-first, narrowly avoiding the tag from Ermindo Escobar, giving the Stompers a 1-0 lead. After a Gotta strikeout for the first out, Chris Kwitzer lined a single off Johnson at first, ricocheting into right field, allowing Butcher and Romero to score to give the Stompers a 3-0 lead.
Gotta led off the bottom of the 5th inning with a high chopper over the mound for an infield single and Jacob Barfield worked a walk to put 2 men on base. With 1 out, Brent Gillespie crushed a 3-run bomb to right field, his 13th of the season, extending the Stompers lead out to 6-0.
With runners on the corners and 2 outs in the bottom of the 6th inning, Kwitzer reached on a throwing error by shortstop Zane Gelphman, allowing Gotta to score and Barfield was thrown out trying to score from first base to end the inning but the Stompers added another run, 7-0.
Vijay Patel (7-1) got his league-leading 7th win of the season Wednesday night, with the only blemish on the card being a solo home run in the top of the 8th inning by Yeiler Peguero to put San Rafael on the board and knocking Patel out of the game. Patel tossed 7 innings while allowing just the one run on 4 hits while striking out 9 on his way to the win.
Jacob Cox (3-0) came out of the bullpen in the 8th and allowed 1 run to make it 7-2 Stompers, while walking 2 and striking out 2.
The Stompers added 6 more runs in the bottom of the 8th inning on 3 hits and 3 walks. The big hit, a Butcher 3-run mammoth homer to left-center field to cap off the 6-run inning to put the Stompers way out in front 13-2.
Ryan Richardson (2-0) slammed the door with a 1-2-3 9th as the champagne fell from the sky with the Stompers clinching 1st place and an automatic birth to the Pacific Association Championship Series August 30th, 31st, and September 1st(if necessary) in which the Stompers will have home field advantage throughout the series.
The Stompers are on the road Thursday in Vallejo with first pitch scheduled for 6:35.