Shaking off the recent sputtering that cost them in the victory column, the Sonoma Stompers tuned up their play, put it in gear, and cruised to a road series-clinching win.
Unfortunately, Sonoma couldn’t sustain its drive over the weekend and had to settle for a two-series split.
The Stompers took last Thursday’s three-game series rubber match in San Rafael, then traveled to Pittsburg, where they dropped two-of-three and find themselves parked at second place in the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball League second-half standings.
In last Thursday’s three-game-series decider at Wilson Park in San Rafael, Sonoma rode the hot-hitting of Matt Hibbert and Jayce Ray to a one-sided 9-3 triumph over the Pacifics, who, after winning the first half, are trying to win the outright PAPB title by claiming the second-half crown.
Leading the Stompers were Hibbert’s three-for-five with a double and RBI; and Ray’s two-for-three, including his seventh home run to go with three runs scored and two RBIs.
Since coming off the disabled list Aug. 7, Hibbert has raised his batting average 50 points to .298 after his three knocks gave him 12 hits in 23 at bats; while Ray’s homer and single gave him five straight multiple-hit games and raised his batting average to .353, which is second-best in the PAPB.
Sonoma was also led by winning pitcher Erik Gonsalves’ seven innings, scattering nine hits, yielding one earned run, striking out four and walking two; Joel Carranza’s double, RBI and run; Steve Rinaudo’s single, two runs and an RBI; Charlie Mirabal and TJ Gavlik’s single and run each; Andrew Parker’s single; Matt Marquis’ RBI; and Reid Chenworth’s run.
The Stompers road trip continued Friday evening in Pittsburg, where they opened the three-game stand by staring up at a seven-run deficit entering the top of the ninth inning, then putting together a stirring rally that tallied five runs and put them in a position to knot the score.
But, despite bringing the tying run to the plate three times, Sonoma ended up dropping a frustrating 10-8 decision to the Mettle, with Ray nailing a home run for his only hit, which snapped his streak of five straight multiple-hit games.
Pacing the Stompers were Carranza’s two-for-five, including a double and two RBIs; Chenworth’s two-for-four with an RBI and a run; Glen Walker’s two-for-three with a run; Ray’s homer, two RBIs and two runs; Parker’s double, RBI and run; Marquis’ double and RBI; Hibbert and Rinaudo’s single and run each; and Gavlik’s run.
Bouncing back from falling in the series opener, Sonoma got a strong Saturday night mound outing from Randy Consuegra and and went on to even the series by posting a 4-2 win over the Mettle.
With Consuegra in command, except for two pitches that turned into solo home runs, over eight innings for the win – yielding four hits, striking out eight and walking one, while retiring 11 straight batters in one stretch – the Stompers scored one run in a frame four times, including Carranza’s league-leading 17th home run.
Sonoma was led offensively by Carranza’s homer, RBI and run; Walker’s single, RBI and run; Hibbert and Chenworth’s single and RBI apiece; Gavlik’s single and run; player-manager Ray Serrano’s single; and Parker’s run.
Unfortunately, the Stompers couldn’t prevail in taking back-to-back series on Sunday, when Pittsburg grabbed a 3-1 fourth-inning advantage and held on for a slim 4-3 victory.
Pacing Sonoma were Mirabal’s three-for-four with two runs and an RBI; Marquis’ three-for-four with an RBI; Serrano’s two-for-five; Carranza’s single and run; and Parker and Chenworth’s single each.
The Stompers begin the final PAPB homestand of the year tonight when they host San Rafael in a three-game series opener at Arnold Field, followed by games tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 20, and Thursday evening, Aug. 21, with three 7:05 p.m. starts.
Then the Vallejo Admirals arrive for the final home series from Friday, Aug. 22, through Sunday, Aug. 24, and the Sonoma Stompers will hold two special tribute events over the weekend at Arnold Field, with “Dusty Baker Night” taking place Friday, Aug. 22, and “Jayce Ray Night” on Saturday, Aug. 23.
The Stompers and their partner, Don & Sons, will team to honor former Major League player and manager Dusty Baker, with the first 200 fans attending the game receiving a free photograph of Baker in action – the first pitch is 7:05 p.m.
Then the Stompers and the Depot Park Museum will team up to celebrate the Valley’s home town star Jayce Ray, who’s in the running for most valuable player – the first pitch is 5:05 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at StompersBaseball.com or at the Arnold Field box office beginning one hour before pitch of any home game.
PAPB STANDINGS (Overall through Aug. 18)
San Rafael Pacifics…39-27
PAPB INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
(Top-three through Aug. 18)
P. Conroy, Pacifics, 8
W. Franklin, Mettle, 7
W. Scott, Stompers, 6
(four tied with 6 wins)
D. Brammer, Mettle, 70
J. Smith, Pacifics, 65
P. Conroy, Pacifics, 65
R. DeJesus, Pacifics, 2.67
D. Neal, Admirals, 2.73
J. Smith, Pacifics, 3.21
G. Gonzalez, Mettle, .369
J. Ray, Stompers, .351
Z. Pace, Pacifics, .340
J. Carranza, Stompers, 17
N. Hutter, Mettle, 10
N. Boggan, Admirals, 9
J. Carranza, Stompers, 57
S. Rinaudo, Stompers, 48
M. Jova, Pacifics, 47