SAN RAFAEL, Calif- The Sonoma Stompers traveled to San Rafael on Friday night to take on the second place Pacifics. Chris Kwitzer and Brent Gillespie’s big home runs pushed the Stompers to a big road win, pushing the Stompers Pacific Association lead to 7.5 games, their largest of the season.
Nick Gotta opened things in the top of the first inning with a walk against Andres Hackman (0-1). Matt Hibbert was hit by a pitch to get on base and Kwitzer grounded into a fielder’s choice, forcing Hibbert out at second base, to put men at the corners with 1 out. Miles Williams walked to load the bases for Rob DeAngelis who was at the plate when Hackman’s wild pitch allowed Gotta to score to give the Stompers a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the 3rd inning Chris Kwitzer demolished his 6th home run of the season to deep right field to extend the lead 3-0. After Kwitzer admired his home run, San Rafael catcher Ermindo Escobar had some choice words for Kwitzer, resulting in the benches clearing and both sides being warned.
With tensions running high, Vijay Patel (6-1) got the first 2 outs quickly in the bottom of the 3rd inning but then fell into some control problems, walking the bases loaded with 2 outs. Corey Dempster then singled home the first Pacifics run and a second run scored when DeAngelis bobbled the ball in left, making it a tight game 3-2.
San Rafael tied the game in the bottom of the 4th inning on Kevin Connolly’s first home run in his first game, tying it 3-3.
The Stompers went back ahead in the top of the 5th inning. Back-to-back singles by Gotta and Hibbert set the table. Kwitzer hit a deep fly ball to right for the first out, allowing Gotta to go to third base. He then scored on Gillespie’s sacrifice fly to center as the Stompers regained a 4-3 lead.
Miles Williams and Rob DeAngelis notched back-to-back doubles to open the top of the 6th inning and extend the lead 5-3. Nick Kern got in on the action, driving in DeAngelis with a single to center, upping the lead 6-3.
The offense erupted in the top of the 7th inning against San Rafael reliever Brad Bero. Gotta picked up his 3rd single of the game to lead off the inning while Hibbert was hit again and Kwitzer loaded the bases with a walk. Brent Gillespie broke it wide open with his first grand slam of the season, his 7thhome run, and the Stompers jumped out in front 10-3.
San Rafael answered in the bottom half of the 7th inning on a Dempster 3-run home run, bringing the score to 10-6, eventually knocking Patel out of the game.
Patel dazzled Friday night, tossing 6 2/3 innings, while allowing 7 hits and striking out 11. His 11 strikeouts were 1 short of his season high back on June 21stwhen he tied the franchise record with 12 punchouts.
With the win, the Stompers are 21 games over .500 with a record of 33-12 and now own their largest lead of the season at 7.5 games.
The Stompers are home for 3 in a row starting Saturday night at 6:05 against the Napa Silverados.