Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
Sean Conroy had seen Matt Chavez two times previously in Thursday night's game. For the right-hander who came in as a fireman way back in the fifth inning, Chavez was going to be his ultimate test throughout the rest of the game. He knew he would see Chavez twice at the very least, and come the ninth inning, there might be a chance the league's most dangerous hitter could come to the plate with the game possibly on the line.
So it came as no surprise that when it came to the most important at-bat in Thursday night's rubber match between the Sonoma Stompers and the San Rafael Pacifics that it was Chavez who stood in the batter's box with two outs, two on and a two-run deficit to make up.
After a meeting with manager Takashi Miyoshi and Isaac Wenrich, it was clear that Conroy was determined not to let what happened in Chavez's last at-bat happen again, when he hit a three-run homer just over the fence in left to tie Joel Carranza's single-season home run record with his 19th bomb of the year.
So he attacked. Down and in with fastballs, he went right after Chavez and dared him to try and do what he did two innings earlier. Instead, on a 1-2 pitch, Chavez swung right over the top of a fastball. The game was over. Conroy pumped his fist. Wenrich, as he always does with the pitcher after a victory, greeted Conroy with one of his trademark hugs. Sonoma took the rubber match, 8-6.
Sonoma (4-2 2nd half, 30-13) got out to a great start early against Patrick Conroy (2-4), scoring twice in the second inning before Conroy left the game with an undisclosed injury. Dan Rogers came in but fared no better, giving up two more runs in the third and three in the fourth inning.
The three runs Sonoma scored in the fourth were a good answer to San Rafael's (2-4 2nd half, 21-23) three runs in the top half from the team's first three-run homer from newcomer Jake Taylor, which ended Matt Walker's great run to start the game. Walker allowed two baserunners to begin the fifth before giving way to Sean Conroy (3-1), who pitched the rest of the way.
The Stompers offense got big nights from Matt Hibbert (3-for-5, RBI, R, 4 SB) and Joel Carranza (2-for-5, 2 2B, 3 RBI) as Sonoma had 13 hits on the night. Taylor Eads added his seventh double in only his eighth game with the Stompers.
Sonoma's victory now puts them atop the standings of the Pacific Association's second half standings alone. Vallejo's 10-8 victory over Pittsburg tonight moved the Diamonds into a tie with the Admirals for second place one game behind the Stompers.
After their short time at home, Sonoma will hit the road for six games beginning Friday. Their first series will be against the very same Pacifics team, with the first pitch for the weekend series opener set for 7:05 p.m. The radio broadcast will begin at 6:50 p.m. on StompersBaseball.com and the TuneIn app for mobile devices.