Not everything went their way Wednesday night, but the Sonoma Stompers turned adversity into a 6-5 victory to secure the Pacific Association first-half pennant, their third one in a row.
Sonoma headed to extra innings on a strike out, throw out double play. In the tenth, manager Takashi Miyoshi put a double-steal play on with two outs. It worked again - his signature play gave Sonoma the 6-3 lead.
“We have to stick to our strengths. (That play) is our signature, and it worked out. I’m just really happy,” Miyoshi said.
Jacob Cox closed the game, earning the save for the second game in a row and securing the Stompers first-half title. The team mobbed Cox on the mound after the last out, cheering and popping champagne.
“How many jobs do you get to have that you get to celebrate victories like this?” said Theo Fightmaster, Stompers president and general manager. “In that sense, it’s really rewarding, in that sense, it doesn’t get old ... The person who should get most of the credit if not all of the credit is Yoshi.”
Sonoma faced Pittsburg starter Travis Blackley, who last pitched in the Major Leagues for the Houston Astros in 2013.
Blackley allowed just one Sonoma run until the seventh, when Eddie Mora-Loera scored on a Yuki Yasuda sacrifice bunt and Matt Hibbert drove in the second run of the frame to give the Stompers a two-run lead.
A two-run home run from Javier Marticorena evened the score in the bottom of the frame. Ryan Richardson retired the side after the knock, but it remained a 3-3 game until extras.
The Stompers took their first lead in the third inning on a Brennan Metzger ground ball.
The Diamonds tied the game in the bottom of that frame also. Pittsburg struck for six hits off of Sonoma starter Scott Plaza through six, managing two runs.
“Pittsburg is definitely an upgraded team,” Miyoshi said. “They are one of the best teams, so we really have to keep up, study them, just get prepared and play hard.”
With the victory, the Stompers improve to 25-10 on the season and ensure themselves a spot in the Pacific Association championship game at the end of the year. If the Stompers also secure the second-half title, there is no championship game and Sonoma is the outright champion.
“I’m trying to get better, just like the players. I’m trying to prepare every day that I can. I’m not a ‘great’ yet, but I’m just trying to be,” Miyoshi said. “We won the first-half title, but it’s not the championship yet. Tomorrow, I’m just coming back and staying hungry, staying aggressive.”
Tuesday, the Stompers won 1-0 behind an excellent effort from starter Taylor Thurber.
Thurber allowed five hits and issued just one walk in seven innings pitched, keeping the Diamonds scoreless in that span.
“In a close ball game like that, you want to make sure you’re making your pitches and staying dialed in. When the game is on the line, it can be turned over just like that,” Thurber said.
Joel Carranza was responsible for the only run in the game with a towering home run to left center field in the first inning.
The Stompers return to Arnold Field tonight, Friday, to start a nine-game home-stand. Pittsburg is in town today, Saturday and Sunday and then San Rafael comes to town Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.