SAN RAFAEL, Calif- The Sonoma Stompers traveled to San Rafael Saturday night in desperate need of a win as they trailed the best of 3 series 1-0. It was Nick Barnese and clutch hitting that forced a winner-take-all game 3 on Sunday night.
The Stompers offense was clicking right out of the gate against San Rafael starter Johnny Morell (2-2). With 1 out, Jacob Barfield lined a base hit to left-center field to get things started. Pedro Barrios followed with a base hit up the middle and Brent Gillespie walked to load the bases. Chris Kwitzer delivered with an RBI single to left-center to give the Stompers the first lead 1-0.
The offense went back to work in the top of the 4th inning when Bronson Butcher worked a leadoff walk and Rob De Angelis doubled off the center field wall to knock Morell out of the game after just 3 innings. Jorge Gonzalez (0-1) entered the game to try and hold the Stompers. With 1 out in the inning, Barfield hit a sacrifice fly to right-center field to bring De Angelis home and extend the lead 2-0.
In the bottom half of the 4th inning San Rafael answered. A 1 out single off Nick Barnese (7-1) put Corey Dempster on base. With 2 outs, Mike Annone hit his second home run of the postseason, tying the game 2-2.
The Stompers chased Gonzalez from the game in the top of the 6th inning after Butcher walked and De Angelis singled with 1 out. Michael Klein came out of the bullpen for San Rafael to face Rayson Romero. On a 1-2 pitch, Romero launched a no-doubt blast to left field to out the Stompers out in front 5-2.
Barnese tossed 5 innings while allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and he struck out 9.
Konner Arnold (7-5) was first out of the bullpen for manager Zack Pace. Arnold pitched a tremendous 3 innings in relief, allowing just 3 baserunners on 1 hit, bridging the cap to the 9th.
Ryan Richardson (2-0) came in to attempt his 9th save of the year. Richardson had been lights out, not allowing an earned runs since when he gave up a home run in San Rafael on June 30th. in the bottom of the 9th, Montelongo singled to put a runner on trailing by 3. With 1 out, Raul Navarro hit a TaylorMade double play ball to Romero at shortstop which hit the lip and went over his head, resulting in a double and putting runners at 2nd and 3rd. Peguero then double to right field to bring both runners home to make it a 1-run game, 5-4 but Peguero rounded first too far and was thrown out by Butcher for the second out. Richardson struck out Axel Johnson to secure his 9thsave and send us to a winner-take-all game 3 on Sunday at 6:05 at Palooza Park at Arnold Field.