Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
After two games that saw the Stompers not take advantage of run scoring opportunities late in close games against the Pittsburg Diamonds, it was indeed the third time that was the charm, as TJ Gavlik's ninth inning RBI single plated Mark Hurley for what proved to be the winning run in a 9-8 victory.
Sonoma (7-5 2nd half, 33-16 overall) was on the verge of being swept for the first time this season thanks to three late runs by Pittsburg (7-5, 25-25) in the seventh, giving the Diamonds an 8-5 lead and putting the Stompers on their heels with only six outs left for a comeback.
When the eighth inning came around, Sonoma got a jolt from Andrew Parker, as a solo home run to left field cut the deficit to 8-6. Gavlik then walked and went all the way to third after two wild pitches from Justin Martinez. He then scored after a bloop single by Matt Hibbert to make it 8-7, and Hibbert went to second after a Yasuda single.
That set the stage for a wild play on a ground ball up the middle by Kristian Gayday. Diamonds shortstop Leo Rodriguez ranged behind the bag and tried to throw to second and end the inning, but the throw sailed wide and everyone was safe. Yasuda turned and started to go to third, but first baseman Mike Taylor was backing up the throw from Rodriguez and tried to gun down Yasuda as he returned to the bag. That throw also went wide and into the outfield, allowing Hibbert to race home from third with the tying run.
From there, Erik Gonsalves (4-2) had to traverse a tough eighth inning. Even after getting two outs with one runner on, Gonsalves couldn't close things out, walking the next two batters to load the bases. With 2014 Pacific Association Rookie of the Year Jordan Hinshaw at the plate, Gonsalves found enough to sit down Hinshaw with a strikeout and escape the jam.
That led to the fateful ninth inning, where Gavlik's single gave Sonoma the lead. They still needed to retire the Diamonds in the bottom of the inning, where it was left up to relief ace Sean Conroy. A rare walk to the Pacific Association's leading hitter in Scott David led things off, with David being moved to second on a ground out. Tim Battle then came to the plate and smashed a comebacker to Conroy.
Conroy turned to check on David, and David had taken too much of a secondary lead off the bag, leading Conroy to throw behind David just as he slid back into second, but not nearly in time to avoid the tag for the second out. After a fly out to Hibbert in center field, the game was over and the Stompers were back in a tie for first place.
Gavlik's 3-for-4 day at the plate led the Stompers offensive attack, and while no other hitter had more than one hit, four players had multiple walks, as Hibbert, Yasuda, Hurley and Parker all showed great patience at the plate. Sonoma had 10 walks in all.
With their final trip to City Park behind them, the Stompers will turn their attention to their upcoming 10-game homestand. Sonoma will host the Diamonds for four games over the weekend, including a doubleheader on Saturday. Friday's series opener is the first of three KRAVE Fridays presented by KRAVE Jerky. Fans will be able to purchase KRAVE Jerky products and have food pairings with various beverages in the Lagunitas Beer Garden.
Tickets begin at just $4 and can be purchased online at StompersBaseball.com or at the Stompers Fan Shop, located at 234 W. Napa St. in beautiful downtown Sonoma. Tickets can also be purchased at the gates at Arnold Field before any home game. For more information, call the Stompers at (707) 938-7277 or email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.