Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
If Tuesday night's loss for the Sonoma Stompers against the Pittsburg Diamonds was Sunday's win over the San Rafael Pacifics but in reverse, Wednesday night's 5-3 loss against Pittsburg was like Tuesday's loss being played over and over again over the final five innings.
Sonoma (6-5 2nd half, 32-16 overall), who saw two opportunities flutter away right in front of them on Tuesday night, was once again down to Pittsburg (7-4 2nd half, 25-24 overall), but it was a bit earlier in the game thanks to the Diamonds getting to starter Matt Walker (2-4) early. By the time he was relieved by Santos Saldivar, the Stompers were down 5-2.
So facing Dylan Brammer (3-0) for the third time beginning in the fifth, the Stompers were hoping that the stats would back up their league-best bats. Pitchers who see a lineup the third time through generally do not do well, and while the numbers for Brammer the third time through weren't as bad as other pitchers, it was still the time for Sonoma to strike.
So things looked good after a lead off single by Isaac Wenrich and after a flyout to deep left-center by Taylor Eads, Brammer got wild, walking both Matt Hibbert and Yuki Yasuda to load the bases for Brennan Metzger. With nowhere to put him, Brammer still couldn't hit his spots, as Metzger walked to bring home Wenrich and make it 5-3.
From there, the Stompers couldn't figure out how to get a runner home in the fifth or any inning afterwards. After Metzger reached, Joel Carranza popped out and Gered Mochizuki lined out to center to end Sonoma's best opportunity so far that evening.
Unfortunately for Sonoma, the opportunities kept coming up empty the rest of the way. The Stompers got at least two runners on with one out or less in each of the next three innings, including loading the bases in the seventh. However, Kristian Gayday grounded out into an inning-ending double play.
The Stompers stranded 10 of their 12 runners over the final five innings, as the hit sequencing that leads to runs eluded the Stompers yet again. There's plenty of bad luck that comes along with leaving that many runners on base, but the offense also ran into a Diamonds pitching staff that handcuffed some of the team's best hitters. Carranza went 0-for-5 with 3 K's. Metzger went 0-for-2 but did draw two walks and got hit by a pitch.
Not everyone was handcuffed, though. Matt Hibbert went 2-for-5 and both Yasuda and Wenrich went 2-for-4. The problem was that all of Sonoma's nine hits and six walks were not created equal. The majority of hits got runners on, but only a few got runners home (two RBI singles by Mochizuki and Gayday in the first). From there, the Stompers run-scoring hits never came.
Saldivar did do his part to try and give Sonoma those opportunities, as he threw 4 1/3 shutout innings in relief of Walker while allowing four hits and one walk. He struck out five batters, as well. He now has 14 strikeouts in his 10 1/3 innings so far this season.
With the loss, Sonoma fell a game behind Pittsburg for first place in the second half of the season. It's the first time all season long that Sonoma has not had at least a share of first place in the first or second half. Now facing a sweep, the Stompers will send Eric Schwieger to the mound in the series finale of their final series at City Park this season. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. with the radio broadcast beginning at 6:50 on both StompersBaseball.com and the TuneIn App.