The Sonoma Stompers took the rubber game Sunday of a hard-fought series against the San Rafael Pacifics on a walk-off error in the 10th inning. The final score was 12-11.
“It’s just a testament to how great of a team we really are and how we’re not going to let anybody in this league determine how we play our game,” said catcher Isaac Wenrich.
The Pacifics bullpen, which put a cork in the Stompers offense Saturday night, proved porous Sunday. Down to two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Sonoma put together a four-run rally. A bases-loaded double down the left field line from Marcus Bradley was the boiling point, tying the game at eight and sending it to extra innings.
“It’s unbelievable,” Bradley said. “I was just glad to get the tying run in for the team right there. I was just looking for something to hit to get at least one run in.”
In the 10th, Eddie Mora-Loera knocked a ball to Pacifics third baseman Brent Gillespie who threw away the ball, allowing three runs to score and the Stompers to walk off.
“We didn’t give up. We came back,” said Manager Takashi Miyoshi. “We tried to have a better approach in the end, especially the last two innings ... We took pitches when we had to and just executed. They had too much pressure on them and they made a mistake defensively.”
The Pacifics took an early lead Sunday, driving in four runs in the first inning.
Gillespie ended the night with his second two-home-run game of the series. A solo shot off of Adam Ogburn in the fifth put San Rafael up by three.
Saturday, the Stompers, fell to the San Rafael Pacifics 6-4.
“You don’t want to stress too much about the loss. We’re still the first-place team, we lost a two-run game in which we didn’t play our game at all,” said Stompers starter Ty’Relle Harris. “Getting a sweep is always good, but our job is to get the series... We’re going to come out very hungry tomorrow”
After a six-game win streak in which it seemed nothing could go wrong for Sonoma, Harris was a bit outside of his usual self early in the game Saturday. Harris walked four batters on the night after walking only three through 20 innings prior.
Pacifics starter Quinn Pippin also struggled to find the zone early, allowing the Stompers to take a 3-0 lead in the first. Ricky Gingras, who has been formidable against Sonoma so far this season, struck for the first San Rafael run with an RBI double in the second.
The major blemish on Harris’ start came on a single pitch, which yielded a three-run home run by Mike Rizzitello.
The Stompers evened the score in the fourth off the bat of Yuki Yasuda. Harris found his groove by then, sending 14 Pacifics back to the dugout in order at one point in the middle innings. Through seven and two thirds innings, Harris struck out 11.
The Pacifics bullpen proved effective against a Sonoma offense that has been explosive in its last several games, keeping the Stompers scoreless in the fifth through ninth innings. Sonoma came into Saturday averaging 8.9 runs per game.
Friday, the Stompers took the first game of the series with an 11-3 win.
Stompers starter Scott Plaza pitched a complete game for Sonoma, allowing three runs and striking out four. It was the first complete game by a Stompers pitcher this season.
The Stompers’ offense has rarely failed to deliver run support to its starters this season.
“I know that no matter what the offense is going to put up at least five runs,” Plaza said. “It gives me confidence to be able to attack the zone a little bit. I know if I give up one, or three, the offense is going to come back and put up 15 a game.”
A double steal play, which has worked well for the Stompers all season, worked again in the third and yielded the first Sonoma run of the game. With Matt LoCoco on first and Bradley on third, LoCoco took off for second and Bradley raced home on the throw down.
The play cracked the floodgates for Sonoma. They struck for three runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings to secure what turned out to be an insurmountable seven-run lead.
Three free baserunners (a walk, a catcher’s interference and a hit by pitch) set the stage for Scott David to drive in all three fifth-inning runs. In the sixth, Daniel Comstock hit a ball to the wall in centerfield to put the Stompers up by six.
Pacifics starter and reigning Pacific Association Pitcher of the Year Patrick Conroy allowed seven runs on five hits in his five-inning performance. The lone San Rafael runs came off the bat of Gillaspie, who struck first with a solo shot in the second and a two-run bomb in the seventh.
The Stompers remain at first place in the Pacific Association and improve to 16-5 on the season. This week, the Stompers face the Pacifics for another three-game set at home Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Game time all three nights is 6 p.m.