Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
By Bill James' game score, it was the single most dominant performance in the history of the Sonoma Stompers franchise. Nine shutout innings, only four hits, no walks, 12 strikeouts for a score of 91. Yet as the game entered the bottom of the ninth, it was still scoreless, and Gregory Paulino was hoping that somehow, some way, the his offense could get one run across and make good on his historic start.
Thanks to Vallejo Admirals errors in the inning, Paulino got his wish. On a double play ball with the bases loaded and one down, Juan Martinez took a ground ball at short and as he stepped on the bag at second, he airmailed a throw 10 feet over Joshua Wong's head at first, allowing Joel Carranza to score the game's only run and give Sonoma a 1-0 walkoff victory.
In the offensively-charged Pacific Association, where teams are scoring a combined 11.5 runs per contest, Paulino (2-1) and Vallejo's (8-12) Demetrius Banks put together two sensational performances. While Paulino was using all three of his pitches to keep hitters flailing at his offerings, Banks was using primarily a fastball with great movement to keep Sonoma's (15-3) high-powered offense at bay. In fact, by Pitch F/X numbers, Banks threw a fastball 80 times in 90 pitches on the evening.
As good as Banks was, however, it was Paulino who wowed everyone. The 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic touched 91 MPH with his fastball and had both a killer changeup and a slider that Vallejo couldn't touch. He threw 103 pitches and a remarkable 78 went for strikes, a 75.8% percentage. He only had issues in the fifth, when Vallejo got runners on first and second with two outs, but Paulino struck out both P.J. Phillips and Michael Cerda to end the inning.
The Admirals never got a runner past second base, and even when they tried to run on Paulino, Isaac Wenrich was ready with his rocket for an arm behind the dish. In the ninth, Jaylen Harris was trying to get into scoring position for Cerda, but he was thrown out by Wenrich trying to steal second base. It was the ninth time that Wenrich had thrown out a baserunner in 2015, and one pitch later, Paulino had his franchise record-tying strikeout.
After allowing eight runs in his first start of the season, Paulino has allowed only four earned runs and 14 baserunners (11 H, 3 BB) in his last 23 innings. He has struck out a batter an inning over that time, as well.
After not having a pitcher throw a complete game shutout in team history, the Stompers now have two in their past 10 days. Matt Walker's one-hitter against Pittsburg on June 15 and Paulino's performance Wednesday night are the only two shutouts in the Pacific Association this season.
The 2:12 game time makes Wednesday night's game the shortest in the Pacific Association this season. Of the 205 total pitches thrown by both teams, 137 went for strikes. Both teams had only four hits each.
Now, the spotlight will shine on Arnold Field once again Thursday night on Pride Night. Sean Conroy, who has been sensational as Sonoma's closer in 2015, will start the series finale to commemorate his status as the first openly gay player to enter the professional baseball ranks.
The first pitch for that night's highly anticipated event is set for 6:05 p.m. and the gates at Arnold Field will open at 5 p.m. Tickets are available online at StompersBaseball.com and at the Stompers Fan Shop located at 234 West Napa Street in downtown Sonoma. Tickets will also be available at the gate. For more information, call the Stompers at (707) 938-7277 or email the team at info@StompersBaseball.com.