Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
It was the opposite side of the coin from Sunday's thrilling win against San Rafael. Like the Pacifics, the Stompers had two chances late in the game to seal a win against the Pittsburg Diamonds in the opener of their three game series on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, like the Pacifics, the Stompers ended up on the wrong side of the score, 4-3 in this case. But the way they lost it stung worst of all.
In the eighth, against a wild Justin Martinez, two runners got aboard with nobody out and the Stompers down one. With Gered Mochizuki at the plate, the Stompers put on the butcher boy play, where Mochizuki squared around to bunt and then pulled back to hit against a drawn in infield. The ball got in the dirt, but was blocked by Pittsburg (6-4 2nd half, 24-24 overall) catcher Tyler Eppler.
Joel Carranza, the runner at first, broke for second thinking the ball got by Eppler, but he didn't see that Eppler found it at his feet. By the time he realized it, Eppler had thrown down to first behind Carrazna for the out. At the same time, Brennan Metzger took off from second thinking he could make it to third with his speed, but Mike Taylor threw it across the diamond to get Metzger just in time for the out, ending a prime scoring opportunity.
While the eighth saw Sonoma (6-4, 32-15) run into their trouble, the ninth was more frustrating for what was out of Sonoma's control. The Stompers loaded the bases in the inning against Steve Chapter with one out, bringing Isaac Wenrich to the plate. With Chapter struggling, Pittsburg went to its sixth pitcher of the night in lefty Rob Ellis. Ellis fell behind 3-1 before a breaking ball on the outside was called a strike that was questionable to Wenrich.
After fouling a pitch off and breaking his bat, Wenrich came back to a full count and a team needing one more run to tie the game. Another Ellis slider around the belt line was called a strike, upsetting Wenrich to the point where after retreating to the dugout, he was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Metzger then hit a sharp ground ball up the middle, but Leo Rodriguez was playing up the middle and was able to snag it and toss it to second for the force out that ended the game.
In all, the Stompers left nine runners on and only had four hits, although three of the four hits brought home runs thanks to seven Diamonds walks. One of those hits was by Carranza, who set a new franchise record by extending his hitting streak to 16 games.
Mike Jackson, Jr. took the loss but pitched well in defeat. He allowed the four runs (three earned) on nine hits but had no walks and struck out eight in six innings. It was his fourth start with at least eight strikeouts this season. Erik Gonsalves and Jon Rand, Jr. finished up, with Gonsalves leaving for precautionary reasons after 1 1/3 innings after taking a line drive off the inside of his non-throwing hand.
The Stompers will return to Pittsburg on Wednesday evening with Matt Walker set to start for Sonoma. The winner of the game will take over sole possession of first place in the second half standings of the Pacific Association. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. with the radio broadcast beginning at 6:50 on StompersBaseball.com and the TuneIn mobile app.