Tim Livingston, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
As far as tough losses go, Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the San Rafael Pacifics was the equivalent of shoe leather or armadillo skin or John Wayne in "The Searchers": As tough as they come.
It wasn't the prettiest game of the season, either. Perhaps on the pitching side of things it was for the first five innings, as Eric Schwieger (5-3) mowed down the Pacifics lineup needing only 46 pitches and faced only one batter over the minimum. The big lefty had the stuff to counter a hyper-aggressive approach by San Rafael (14-8 2nd half, 33-27 overall) and keep their red hot offense at bay.
However, with the best player in the league by far, San Rafael has a weapon that can win them close games with a single swing of the bat with relative ease. Even on a pitch down and away in a 2-1 ballgame, Pacific Association home run king Matt Chavez had ideas of going with that pitch if he got it.
He got it on the first pitch he saw and he got it all, hitting a laser of a shot out to right and just over the wall for what proved to be the game-winning home run. Schwieger didn't make many mistakes at all, but the batted ball gods didn't shine brightly on the Stompers at all in the first place.
A somewhat troublesome trend on this night began in the fifth for Sonoma (13-9, 39-20), when with a 1-0 lead, the Stompers loaded the bases with two outs. Isaac Wenrich, who has had some trouble with same-side pitching this year, was able to coerce a walk against left-hander Patrick Conroy to make it 2-0.
On the very next pitch to Mark Hurley, a pop out to the catcher ended the inning. That became the first of three times players in scoring position were left on base over the last five innings, including Sonoma leaving the bases loaded twice.
During the final inning, as with one out and Yuki Yasuda at first, Wenrich doubled down the right field line to put runners at second and third, but Hurley struck out (albeit partly due to a questionable 3-1 pitch up and in that was called a strike that could have loaded the bases) and Gered Mochizuki lined out to right to end the game with both the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
All in all, Sonoma left 12 runners on base, including eight over the final five innings and the bases loaded twice. That proved to be a crucial aspect of this particular game, mainly because the Stompers were able to get things going plenty of times throughout, but couldn't really finish off rallies with that big run-scoring hit.
Kristian Gayday had a big game for the Stompers, going 3-for-4 with a ground rule double and scoring both Stompers runs on the evening. He now has seven hits in his last nine at-bats at Albert Park, including two doubles and a triple. Mochizuki added two singles and both Wenrich (1-for-4, BB) and TJ Gavlik (1-for-3, BB) reached base twice.
Frustrating as Tuesday's loss was, Sonoma has plenty of chances this week to make up for it, beginning tonight with game two of their three game set against San Rafael. Gregory Paulino will start for Sonoma against a one-night starter in Ghazaleh "Ozzie" Sailors, a female pitcher of some notoriety that has unexpectedly been added to the drama of this year's pennant race. First pitch is set for 7:05 with the radio broadcast beginning at 6:50 on StompersBaseball.com and the TuneIn mobile app.