Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
Ho-hum games aren't something seen on the regular in the Pacific Association, as any game with less than 10 total runs scored is looked at as some type of anomaly. It was one of those anomalies on Thursday night, and for the Stompers, it was an anomaly they were happy to be a part of.
Thanks to a strong start from Mike Jackson and shutdown relief work from Paul Hvozdovic and Sean Conroy, the Sonoma Stompers got ever closer to the Pacific Association 1st half championship with a 3-2 victory over the defending champion San Rafael Pacifics.
Sonoma (20-6) is the first team to 20 wins in the Pacific Association and has a magic number of 7 for the 1st half title. They also remain undefeated at home, as they are now 10-0 at Arnold Field so far in 2015.
Sonoma got out to an early lead thanks to an RBI single by Gered Mochizuki and a sacrifice fly by Kristian Gayday in the first, and after Sergio Miranda's sac fly in the second, Sonoma got all the runs they'd need on the evening.
Much of their success had to do because of mishaps by San Rafael (13-13). In the bottom of the second inning, Maikel Jova's error on a fly ball allowed Fehlandt Lentini to reach and keep the inning alive for Miranda's sac fly. In the top of the third, with two runs already in for San Rafael, Jova came home from third on a sharp grounder to Danny Baptista at first and was easily thrown out, keeping the Pacifics from tying the game.
Then, with the tying runs on later in the game, San Rafael learned the hard way about giving away outs with the sacrifice bunt. After Adrian Martinez's leadoff double in the fourth, a sac bunt from David Kiriakos moved him over to third base, but Zack Pace bounced out to the pitcher and a groundout by Johnny Bekakis ended the threat.
An even more egregious move was made in the sixth, when runners were at first and second with nobody out, but Kiriakos grounded out to short against a drawn in infield for the second out and Pace flew out to end the inning.
Those were the best opportunities San Rafael would get against Jackson (3-1), who pitched around some bad batted ball luck and found the strike zone a lot in his six innings, allowing eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
Hvozdovic got a scare against Matt Chavez in the seventh when the league's leading home run hitter crushed a ball, but Chavez hit it to the wrong part of the yard, as Lentini ran it down in center just shy of the fence. After a scoreless eighth, Conroy shut the door in the ninth for his fifth save, giving him 17 innings with a 0.00 ERA.
Joel Carranza's hot streak continued, as well, as he went 2-for-3 for his fourth consecutive multi-hit game and his seventh over his last 10 games. He's now hitting .350/.400/.550 this season, leading the team in all three triple slash categories and amongst the top 5 in the Pacific Association in each category, as well.
Sonoma will come back home on Saturday evening for the first time ever on Independence Day, as the Stompers will host the Pacifics in game two of their three game series. Before the game, the Stompers will march in the nationally renowned 4th of July parade at 10 a.m.
The first pitch is set for 5:05 p.m., with the gates opening at Arnold Field beginning at 4 p.m. Parking will be tough to come by at the normal parking lot between the field and Depot Park, so fans are encouraged to park in the parking lot behind the Veteran's Memorial Building, with entrances on both 1st Street West and 1st Street East.
Tickets are available online at StompersBaseball.com and at the gate once it opens. For more information on ticket sales, please call the Stompers at (707) 938-7277 or email the team at info@StompersBaseball.com.