Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
While they haven't faced much adversity so far in 2015, the Sonoma Stompers are now realizing that the rest of the Pacific Association is not going to let them run away with a first half championship.
The Pittsburg Diamonds played the Stompers very tough over the weekend, and with the Diamonds currently occupying last place, Sonoma knew that their games this week against the second place San Rafael Pacifics would be even tougher, especially with San Rafael winning each of their last three series coming in.
On Tuesday night, the Pacifics showed why they might be the biggest threat to the Stompers hold on the top spot in the league, as the heart of their order led an eighth inning rally that put San Rafael past Sonoma in the opener of the two teams' very important week, 5-4.
In the first of what would be seven games in six days, San Rafael (12-11) sent 3-4-5 hitters Matt Chavez, Maikel Jova and Jeremy Williams to the plate against Jon Rand, Jr. (1-1) in the eighth with the Pacifics down by one run. The trio went single, double, single to start off the inning, plating the tying run and putting Jova 90 feet away as the potential go-ahead run.
Rand forced a fielder's choice that kept Jova at third for the first out and gave way to Erik Gonsalves. Looking for a double play ball, Gonsalves got the ground ball, but it found the hole on the right side off the bat of Danny Gonzalez, as the single brought home Jova for what turned out to be the winning run.
Once Michael Kershner pitched his scoreless frame in the ninth for his second save of the year, Sonoma (18-5) saw their lead in the Pacific Association standings cut down to six games. Both teams have 16 games to go before the end of the first half, and the Stompers are still in control of the league by a hefty margin, but with six more games to go against San Rafael this week, a good run against their rivals from Marin would help solidify their standing.
The offense performed well in defeat with 12 hits on the evening. All but two hitters in the lineup had base hits, with Joel Carranza (3-for-4, 2B), Fehlandt Lentini (3-for-5, 2 RBI) and Matt Hibbert (2-for-4) leading the way.
On the hill, Eric Schwieger started the game and was very good over 6 2/3 innings, allowing only eight baserunners (6 H, 2 BB) and three earned runs while striking out five. He gave way to Rand in the seventh, with Rand striking out pinch-hitter Tyger Pedersen to end what was shaping up to be a big Pacifics rally in the inning.
The Stompers will be back at it tomorrow night in San Rafael for game two of their three games on the road. Gregory Paulino has the start for Sonoma in his first appearance since his four-hitter on June 24 where he tied a franchise record with 12 strikeouts against the Vallejo Admirals. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. with the radio broadcast beginning at 6:50 on StompersBaseball.com and the TuneIn app.