Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
The navigation of the second half of the 2015 Pacific Association season looks like it will be a very difficult trek for the Sonoma Stompers, as their domination of the first half has led their competition to catch up to them for an opportunity to face the Stompers in the championship game scheduled for August 31.
After a 4-2 week against the San Rafael Pacifics, the Stompers turned around and went 2-4 against the Pittsburg Diamonds this week, with Sunday's 9-2 loss ending the week on a down note and giving the Stompers only their second series loss at home this season.
Sonoma (8-7 2nd half, 34-16 overall) had only one advantage this afternoon thanks to an error by Pittsburg (9-6, 27-26) starter Jheyson Manzueta (4-2), who had an errant pick off throw to first base trying to get Matt Hibbert. As the ball squirted away from Mike Taylor, Hibbert went all the way to third and came home on an RBI groundout by Brennan Metzger.
From there, it was basically all Pittsburg, but they did get a lucky bounce along the way. With one out and runners at the corners in the fourth, Leo Rodriguez bounced a ball towards second that looked like a double play, only to see it bound over the shoulder of Yuki Yasuda off the lip of the infield grass to bring home the tying run. A fielder's choice by Tim Battle then gave Pittsburg the lead for good.
After the early run, Manzueta settled down and kept the league-best Stomper offense at bay, allowing only two hits during his eight innings. He didn't have his best control, walking four and throwing only 62 of his 107 pitches for strikes, but he constantly induced weak contact.
Pittsburg pulled away for good in the seventh, plating four runs against both Jackson and newcomer Cole Warren, who made his professional debut in relief for the Stompers. The exclamation point for Pittsburg came in the ninth with a three-run homer by Mike Taylor, his 16th of the season and his fourth of this week against the Stompers.
Metzger knocked in both Sonoma runs with groundouts to shortstop, while Matt Hibbert, Isaac Wenrich, Gered Mochizuki and TJ Gavlik tallied the hits.
With San Rafael's 8-3 victory over Vallejo to move the Pacifics into a second place tie with the Stompers, it looks like Sonoma will have to fend off multiple advances in the second half to try and win an outright championship. After two weeks of work against Pittsburg and San Rafael, the Stompers will welcome the Vallejo Admirals to Arnold Field for the week, as all six games between the two teams will be played at home. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m.
Tickets begin at just $4 and can be purchased online at StompersBaseball.com or at the Stompers Fan Shop, located at 234 W. Napa St. in beautiful downtown Sonoma. Tickets can also be purchased at the gates at Arnold Field before any home game. For more information, call the Stompers at (707) 938-7277 or email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.