Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
When Sonoma saw the San Rafael Pacifics on the schedule seven times this past week, there was this idea that the Stompers would use the week's worth of competition as a catapult towards clinching the Pacific Association's first half championship.
Yet here the Stompers are at the end of the week looking back at a 2-5 record against San Rafael, and after losing both games in Sunday's doubleheader against the Pacifics, Sonoma sits only four games up on San Rafael with 10 games to go in the first half. Sonoma got behind early against San Rafael in the opener at Arnold Field and fell 8-1, while a six-run fourth inning doomed the Stompers in game two at Albert Park, 8-4.
It wasn't what Sonoma (20-9) was looking for, obviously, as they came into the week with a magic number of 11 to clinch the first half. With seven games against San Rafael (16-13), a week over .500 would have put them on the precipice, but the Pacifics offense that has helped the team to 11 wins in their last 16 games came out to play this week.
The opener saw the Pacifics take advantage of a Kristian Gayday error in the first inning that ended up leading to three runs, and in the second inning, Matt Chavez used the elements in play to launch a three-run homer to right-center at Arnold Field on a fly ball that looked routine until the wind took it for a ride right over the fence.
Eric Schwieger (3-1) went the distance for Sonoma in the loss, and the bad luck that befell him with the error and the elements ended up stinging the big left-hander is loss of 2015.
Sonoma's offense picked up in the second game. After being down 2-0, the Stompers roared back for two runs in the second and fourth innings to take a lead against San Rafael pitcher Ryan DeJesus (2-2).
But the Pacifics came right back in the bottom half of the inning against Gregory Paulino (2-3) and chased him from the game thanks to a two run double from Adrian Martinez that tied the game. When Erik Gonzalves relieved Paulino with the bases loaded, his first pitch to David Kiriakos was lined right over the head of Gayday at third and down the line for a bases– clearing double, which gave San Rafael all they needed.
All in all, the seven games in six days didn't seem to sit well with the Stompers. Their offense was not as sharp as it had been the previous four weeks and some of that had to do with facing San Rafael's pitching staff, which was the best in the league overall when using advanced stats such as FIP.
Meanwhile, the pitching staff that was the best in the league are preventing runs ended up not having their best week either. In total, Sonoma's pitchers gave up a total of 43 runs this week, bringing their ERA as a team to 4.14. This is something that might've been coming all along for Sonoma, as their FIP coming into Sunday's action sat at 4.24. The team had been outperforming it's FIP for the first month of the season, and it now looks like it's correcting itself
It was a banner week for San Rafael's Matt Chavez as he hit five home runs to increase his league best total to 13. By Sunday's end, Chavez was at the top of all three Triple Crown categories in the Pacific Association.
Daniel Baptista was the highlight of the day offensively for Sonoma, as he led the way with four hits in the doubleheader. Mark Hurley added three hits in both games to push his stats to .301/.373/.403 on the season. The Stompers left fielder has nine hits in his last 19 at-bats.
After the off day on Monday, Sonoma will play their next six games in the friendly confines of Arnold Field. Their first game will take place Tuesday evening when the red-hot Pittsburg Diamonds come to town, winners of their last five in a row. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m.
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 downtown Sonoma. The gates are open one hour before first pitch and fans can purchase tickets there, as well. For more information, call the Stompers at (707) 938-7277 or email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.