Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
It was one of the most interesting and entertaining games of the season, featuring 23 runs, a position player pitching, a new franchise record for hits in a single game by the Stompers and an ejection that Ray Serrano himself would be proud of.
On top of all that, there was a win in there somewhere for the Stompers, as Sonoma snapped a three game losing streak with a 16-7 romp over the San Rafael Pacifics at Albert Park on Thursday night.
Sonoma (19-6) had been reeling a bit after losing three straight for the first time in 2015, and with the wrong end of a sweep staring them in the face against a San Rafael (13-12) team looking to close the gap between the top two teams in the league, a win on Thursday night would keep the Pacifics at bay before the two teams head to Sonoma for another three-game series.
That's the message Sonoma seemed to carry with them from the very start against Wander Beras (1-1), who was coming off a tremendous debut with the Pacifics last week where he struck out 10 batters in only 5 1/3 innings. The hard throwing lefty was hit hard from the get go, and after a four run first inning, Sonoma decided a second one of those would do just fine.
Even after a Matt Chavez solo blast in the bottom half of the first, when San Rafael came back to the plate in the bottom half of the second, it was 8-1 and the rout was on.
The Stompers broke the franchise record for hits with 19 on the evening and were a run shy of tying that particular franchise record, as well. Gered Mochizuki, Joel Carranza, Isaac Wenrich and Mark Hurley all had three-hit nights, with Mochizuki's three hits breaking an 0-for-11 skid in the series.
Yet even with all the offense on the evening helping Sonoma to their first win of the season at Albert Park, this game will most likely be remembered for what happened in the top of the fifth inning. After Sergio Miranda grounded out to shortstop, Sonoma manager Fehlandt Lentini was arguing with the umpire about a 3-1 pitch in Miranda's at bat that was called a strike, yet looked outside to Miranda, Lentini, and many members of the Stompers dugout.
As Mochizuki stepped to the plate, Lentini was thrown out by the home plate umpire and proceeded to run out onto the field and get in the face of both umpires. He ended up kicking dirt on the home plate umpire while trying to cover up home plate and then followed that up by scooping up dirt and piling it on top of the plate.
While there's not a truly quantifiable measure for how a team responds when their manager gets ejected, the dugout at least responded as if they were behind their manager, and during the next inning, they sent 11 batters to the plate as part of a six run rally that put the game away.
Lentini's ejection almost got overshadowed by a surprise pitching appearance by longtime Pacifics outfielder Zack Pace in the eighth inning, who was trying to keep the bullpen arms fresh for four games in the next three days. The outfielder barely crossed 60 MPH on the gun, but he allowed only one hit in his two innings of work.
On the Stompers side, Jeff Conley had a rough outing, allowing seven runs in his four innings of work, but Erik Gonsalves (3-1) was there to pick him up and keep the Pacifics at bay, throwing four shutout innings in relief. He allowed five hits and walked two, but didn't run into much trouble. Sean Conroy pitched a scoreless ninth in his first appearance since his historic start a week ago on Pride Night.
The Stompers lost their first three game series of 2015, but with the win on Thursday, they are now six games up on the Pacifics with 14 to play in the first half of the season. Sonoma's magic number to clinch the first half championship is now at 9. The two teams will travel to Sonoma on Friday evening for the first of three games at Arnold Field. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m.
Tickets are available online at StompersBaseball.com and at the Stompers Fan Shop located at 234 West Napa Street. Fans can also buy tickets at the gate beginning one hour before first pitch. For more information, call 707-938-7277 or email the Stompers at firstname.lastname@example.org