Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
If Tuesday's game was the toughest loss of the season for the Stompers to take, Wednesday's game was as impactful but for the opposite and correct reasons.
Instead of the little things not going Sonoma's way, runners being left on base by the bushel and only a small handful of mistakes costing the Stompers a victory, Sonoma made all the right moves, rode some terrific pitching and came out on the right side of a 5-1 decision against the San Rafael Pacifics to pull into a first place tie in the Pacific Association second half standings.
It was a historic night in San Rafael as Oz Sailors became the first female pitcher to throw for the Pacifics in team history, but the young right-hander did not get off to a great start against Sonoma (14-9 2nd half, 40-20 overall). Only lasting 2 1/3 innings, Sailors gave up six hits and three runs to give Sonoma an early lead.
The one run San Rafael got came in the first inning as Danny Gonzalez drove home Zack Pace with an RBI single. After that, the Stompers recorded all 27 outs in the game without another run coming home for the Pacifics, but they did have their chances.
Twice in the game, the Pacifics got runners at 2nd and 3rd with two outs and their best hitter, Matt Chavez to the plate. Both times, Stompers manager Takashi Miyoshi decided to intentionally walk the league's leader in every major offensive category. Both times, the man on deck, Jeremy Williams, struck out to end the inning.
The second time Williams went down was in the fifth, when Dylan Stoops (1-0) replaced starter Gregory Paulino. The big lefty got Williams swinging on a breaking ball to end the inning, exploding the Stompers dugout in response. He then proceeded to shut down the Pacifics for two more innings, giving way to Miyoshi's other brilliant tactical decision.
With Gonzalez, Chavez and Williams coming up in the eighth, Miyoshi went to Santos Saldivar, who had done work out of the bullpen on his side day this past week against Pittsburg. The move paid off nicely, as Saldivar carefully worked around Chavez with a walk and only allowed a hit to Williams before getting Maikel Jova swinging and Ricky Gingras to ground out to end the inning.
Miyoshi expressed frustration after Tuesday's loss thanks to the runners left aboard and his decisions not working out as well as they did Wednesday, but all the right moves were made by the Stompers manager in the turnaround game of the crucial three game series in San Rafael, setting up a rubber match for sole possession of first place heading into this weekend's return matchup in Sonoma.
Matt Hibbert, Isaac Wenrich, Danny Baptista and Gered Mochizuki each had two hits, with Mochizuki flashing the leather at second base, as well, diving to his right to start a double play on a ball hit by Chavez in the first. Mark Hurley's home run in the ninth inning put an exclamation point on Sonoma's win, as his two run shot was his seventh of the season.
Thursday's matchup won't be easy for the Stompers, as they will face Max Beatty, who has two consecutive complete game victories. His most recent win was a one-hit shutout against Pittsburg, but the Stompers have hit him hard the last two times he's faced them. Sonoma will counter with southpaw Paul Hvozdovic. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. with the radio broadcast beginning at 6:50 on StompersBaseball.com and the TuneIn mobile app.