Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
Thanks to a two-out Joel Carranza RBI single in the top of the 10th, the Sonoma Stompers remained undefeated in 2015 with a 2-1 victory over the Vallejo Admirals in 10 innings. The five game winning streak is now the longest in franchise history, besting the four game streak set from June 4-7 in 2014.
While the first four games were won with a prolific offensive attack, it was the Stompers dominant pitching that became the key on Saturday evening. For the first time in his career with Sonoma (5-0), Mike Jackson, Jr. was called on as the starting pitcher and came up huge for his team.
After 31 appearances in 2014 as a reliever, with most of them coming as the team's closer, Jackson was terrific in his five-plus innings of work, mixing both his slider and his split-finger fastball with a 90 MPH heater to baffle the Admirals hitters. He was spotted a 1-0 lead right out of the gates thanks to an Isaac Wenrich RBI single, but Vallejo (3-2) finally got to Jackson in the sixth.
Darian Sandford led things off with a four pitch walk, which was atypical of Jackson on the evening. Sandford had already stolen a base earlier in the game and was off and running this time around once more, stealing second and putting the tying run aboard. That allowed PJ Phillips to drive Sandford home with a single over the outstretched glove of Sergio Miranda at second base, tying the game at 1-1.
Jackson's final line was terrific: 5+ innings, four hits, an earned run, a walk and six strikeouts. In his 67 pitches total, he threw 43 for strikes.
In the ninth, Vallejo had a great chance to win the ballgame when Jordan Hinshaw drew a walk off Jon Rand, Jr. (1-0). With Kale Sumner at the plate against Rand, Sumner was asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but Rand couldn't find the plate, taking the count to 3-0. After a strike Sumner got bat to ball, but popped the bunt up to first baseman Daniel Baptista for the first out.
After a ball to Brad Young, Rand caught Hinshaw trying to steal second and picked him off for the second out, taking away Vallejo's best opportunity of the game to that point.
But they also failed to do so in the 10th. Against Stompers closer Sean Conroy, Vallejo got the first two runners aboard and again attempted the sacrifice bunt, but Tyler Nordgren couldn't get it down. With two strikes on him and the bunt off, he grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, which then led to Conroy getting Sandford to pop out weakly to second base to end the game for his second save.
Sonoma only managed seven hits in the game, their first game of 2015 where they didn't have double-digit hits as a team. Carranza had two hits to lead the way for the Stompers, who have now set a franchise record for most consecutive wins with five.
Like Jackson, Rand was terrific as well, giving up only two hits in four scoreless innings to pick up his first win of 2015. The Stompers bullpen has been lights out, allowing only one run in 25 2/3 innings pitched so far this season, by far the best in the Pacific Association.
The defense stepped up big, too. On a popup into foul territory by former Stomper Glenn Walker in the second, Baptista ran over to field it in front of the Stompers dugout. Battling the wind, the ball came back behind him and as he reached out for it, it hit the heel of his glove. But Baptista was able to get his bare hand over to complete the catch and end the inning.
However, the biggest defensive play for the Stompers came in the seventh inning. After two-out singles by Walker and Brian Williams for Vallejo, Tyler Nordgren skied the first pitch to deep left field in foul territory, where Mark Hurley hustled and made a headlong dive towards the Admiral bullpen to make a sensational catch and end the Vallejo scoring chance.
With yet another win, the Stompers can have their first-ever 6-0 week with a win tomorrow at Wilson Park in Vallejo, where they will finish their three game series with the Admirals. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m., with the radio broadcast going live on StompersBaseball.com and the TuneIn Radio app.