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Stompers struggle against Diamonds

First baseman Scott David prepares to throw home to prevent a run from scoring as Ordomar Valdez-Martinez of the Pittsburg Diamonds rounds the bag in recent action at Arnold Field. (Bill Hoban/Index-Tribune)

HAYLE SLYE,

The Sonoma Stompers have hit the mid-season doldrums, after walking away with the first-half Pacific Association league title. They are still on top, but have struggled in the past few series and, on Wednesday night, lost their third straight game for the first time this season with a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburg Diamonds at Peoples Home Equity Ballpark, Arnold Field.

The Stompers came into the game having scored just two runs in their last two games, both the previous night in a 6-2 loss to the Diamonds. And the Diamonds again took an early lead Wednesday, managing three runs off of Stompers starter Scott Plaza in the fourth.

The Sonoma bullpen mostly quieted the Pittsburg offense thereafter, other than two runs they shook out of Dominic Topoozian in the fifth. A home run off of DJ Sharabi by Gerald Bautista in the ninth was the only other blemish for the Stompers’ bullpen.

Yuki Yasuda and Daniel Comstock lead the offensive effort for the Stompers. Both the catcher and the second baseman went 2-for-4 with a run driven in each. Matt Hibbert reached base three times, getting a hit and walking twice.

It was Comstock and Brennan Metzger – in the lineup for the first time since July 22 – who scored Sonoma’s first runs of the game in the fourth.

Earlier in the series, the Stompers fell short of overcoming a four-run deficit in Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Diamonds. Starter Taylor Thurber allowed three runs through six, but the Stompers managed just four hits off of the Diamonds’ Tyler Stirewalt, who struck out seven in his six innings of work.

“We beat ourselves. I don’t think we get beat very often,” said designated hitter Joel Carranza. “We left a lot of men on base today and if you don’t hit the ball, you’re not going to win.”

Despite a dearth of hits, the Stompers compiled nine walks on the night. While Sonoma’s offense came primarily from walks, the Diamonds used the long ball: Four of Pittsburg’s six runs came on hits that went over the fence.

The game was punctuated by solid defense from Matt LoCoco and Hibbert in the outfield. The two declared the outfield a no-fly zone as LoCoco laid out to make a graceful diving catch, his second spectacular grab in his last few games.

“I feel like we have the best outfield in the league. Nothing drops,” Carranza said. “It’s fun, because it makes our pitchers a lot more comfortable.”

Stacy Piagno entered the game for the top of the ninth, pitching a scoreless frame and striking out Pittsburg’s Wes Wallace. Zach Wendorf also pitched a scoreless inning in relief.

“Zach has been really good out of the bullpen lately. He’s been just getting the job done, doing what he has to do. We’re really pleased with how he’s been doing,” Carranza said. “And Stacy, she comes out and does her thing. It’s always fun to watch her.”

With the two losses, the first-place Stompers drop to 27-16 (9-5 second half) on the season, while the Diamonds improve to 27-26 (7-7).

Thursday night marked the end of the three-game series with the Diamonds, results not available at press time. Then the Stompers head to San Rafael for a three-game series, before returning home for six against Vallejo and Pittsburg, Aug. 8 – 13.

Tickets are available online at stompersbaseball.com or at the fan shop, at 234 W. Napa St. Tickets will also be available at the box office on game days, beginning 30 minutes prior to the game.