Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
Friday's game might have looked like an aberration compared to the rest of 2015 for the Sonoma Stompers, but in a game on Saturday that featured as few as you can score in a regulation baseball game, it was something that both Sonoma and the visiting Vallejo Admirals had seen before.
On June 24, a thrilling pitching duel between Sonoma's Gregory Paulino and Vallejo's Demetrius Banks went all the way to the ninth inning without a single run before a throwing error on a possible double play ball allowed Joel Carranza to race home from third with the game's only run.
Saturday, the Stompers won another 1-0 game against the Vallejo Admirals, but their run came early, as a Mark Hurley solo homer in the second inning proved to be the game's most crucial hit in a matchup filled with more great pitching and defense.
After Matt Hibbert made the catch of the year on Friday night laying out for a line drive in right-center field, a crucial ball struck in the sixth by PJ Phillips proved to be a turning point on Saturday. With two out and Aaron Brill at third, Phillips hit a lined shot back up the middle, but Gered Mochizuki at second base ranged to his right and laid out parallel to the infield dirt for a sensational grab that robbed Vallejo (6-14 2nd half, 19-40 overall) of the game's tying hit.
Phillips would have his own great defensive play soon enough on a ball up the middle in the eighth with a runner at first, as he ranged to his right and fielded a ground ball before flipping it behind his back to Brill covering for the force out. It was a similar play like the one done by his older brother Brandon Phillips on July 21, showing that the Phillips brothers can make some plays happen at the keystone no matter what level of baseball it is.
Mike Jackson, Jr. (5-2) had another very good starting performance, going 5 1/3 scoreless innings and allowing only five base runners (four hits, one walk) while striking out four. When the Admirals got going a bit in the sixth, manager Takashi Miyoshi had the quick hook in a tight ballgame for the rookie southpaw Dylan Stoops, who was absolutely masterful the rest of the way.
The Pennsylvania native threw 3 2/3 perfect innings of relief and struck out four batters in his most impressive outing yet with Sonoma (12-8, 38-19), as the former University of Richmond star had all four of his pitches working against the Admirals.
Yuki Yasuda, Brennan Metzger and Kristian Gayday had the other hits for the Stompers, as both teams only managed four hits each in the game. Vallejo's Chad Bunting had a two-hit night while former Stomper Glenn Walker added a double. The game made a tough-luck loser of David Dinelli (3-5), who went seven strong innings and allowed only three hits while walking four and striking out six.
Sonoma's win keeps them in a first-place tie with the San Rafael Pacifics going into Sunday. The Pacifics defeated the Pittsburg Diamonds 11-7 behind four home runs, including two from league home run king Matt Chavez.
Senior Sunday presented by Hired Hands Homecare features $5 discounts for senior fans and $1 canned sodas for all fans during tomorrow's game, which is set for a 1:05 p.m. first pitch. Santos Saldivar will get the start for the Stompers against Banks for Vallejo.
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 beautiful downtown Sonoma. Tickets can also be purchased at the gates at Arnold Field before any home game. For more information, call the Stompers at (707) 938-7277 or email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.