Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
The all-important final series of the 2015 season got underway on Friday night at Albert Park and the Sonoma Stompers are now in a position they haven't been all season long.
With only two days left in the regular season, the Stompers were knocked down from atop their overall standings perch for the first time in 2015 by their rivals from San Rafael, as the Pacifics rode a tremendous pitching performance from JR Bunda to a 3-0 victory to put them a win away from hosting Monday's Pacific Association championship game.
While Bunda's (2-1) performance, where he allowed three hits in eight shutout innings and struck out 10, was tremendous in its own right, it was the complete game effort of Eric Schwieger (5-7) that kept Sonoma in the game the entire way, even with Bunda continuing to fire up zeroes.
In fact, Schwieger only needed 89 pitches in his eight innings to keep the Pacifics at bay, and the final two runs came home thanks to an error in the eighth inning on a ground ball that could have ended the inning. Outside of the double that led to San Rafael's first run in the second inning, Schwieger was dominant at times, matching Bunda pitch for pitch.
Unfortunately, the Stompers offense just couldn't figure out what to do with Bunda, who kept hitting his spots and inducing weak contact. Twice they got two runners on with one out in a 1-0 game, but Bunda got out of both jams to keep Sonoma scoreless. In fact, the Stompers never had a runner reach third base in the game.
The high points for Sonoma were on defense. Mark Hurley gunned down David Kiriakos from left field as Kiriakos tried to stretch a single into a double in the third inning and newcomer Keith Kandel making a sliding catch in right field in the sixth that was amongst the finest catches all season for Sonoma.
With the loss, Sonoma falls a half game behind San Rafael for the best overall record in the league, with the league-best mark determining who will host the championship game on Monday. Sonoma will send Gregory Paulino to the mound on Saturday to try and set up a winner-take-all game on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. at Albert Park.