Professional baseball in the Valley begins at 7:05 p.m. tonight when the Sonoma Stompers Baseball Club holds its franchise home opener at a refurbished Arnold Field, where it will host the San Rafael Pacifics.
The Pacific Association of Professional Baseball League home series continues through tomorrow night, Wednesday, July 2, and Thursday, July 3.
After playing a long stretch of PAPB road games a month into the season, the Stompers will host the San Rafael Pacifics in this evening’s inaugural home clash, with Sonoma recently bolstering its lineup with the signings of Matt Hibbert and Manuel Osborne-Ramirez, who each swing a strong bat and are solid with the glove. Hibbert is a 5-foot, 10-inch, 180-pound 23-year-old out of Chandler, Arizona, who played his previous two seasons with the Hawaii Stars, formerly of the North American Baseball League and later the Pacific Association of Baseball Clubs.
In two seasons in two different leagues, Hibbert batted .265, stole 24 bases in 76 game appearances, and was a standout in the outfield, committing only four errors in 187 chances.
The 6-1, 210-pound Osborne-Ramirez, nephew of former big league star and World Series MVP Manny Ramirez, played last season with the Amarillo Sox of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.
Ramirez also spent time with both the McAllen Thunder of the NABL and Santa Fe Fuego of the Pecos League and compiled a career batting average of .300, along with an on base percentage of .417, and he hopes to add the RBI production to his game.
After being swept by the Vallejo Admirals with a 5-1 loss last Thursday, Sonoma got what it needed on the mound to open a weekend series at the San Rafael Pacifics’ Albert Field.
With pitching ace Gabriel Garcia spinning another impressive effort, the Stompers nipped San Rafael 4-3 Friday night.
It was Garcia’s PAPB-leading fourth win without a loss and 2.01 ERA after pitching eight innings strong, yielding nine hits and three earned runs, while striking out a season-high seven and walking none.
In the fifth inning the Stompers put together their biggest rally of the game as Matt Marquis led off with a single and stole second, and the next batter, Jaime Del Valle, who signed with the Stompers just before the game, collected his first hit with the team to drive in Marquis.
After T.J. Gavlik sacrificed Del Valle to second, Matt Hibbert reached on a strikeout with a wild pitch. Charlie Mirabal singled home Del Valle and Jayce Ray grounded out to first to score Hibbert, giving the Stompers three runs in the frame.
Adding to the action, and entertainment for an important cause, the Pacifics donned pink dresses for the game inspired by the 1992 film “A League of their Own” starring Tom Hanks and Geena Davis, to commemorate breast cancer awareness weekend in San Rafael. A portion of the weekend’s proceeds at Albert Park were donated to the To Celebrate Life Breast Cancer Foundation of Marin County.
On a sunny and warm Saturday afternoon at Albert Park, the Stompers used a seven-run fourth-inning to power past San Rafael for an 11-5 triumph, with Sonoma starting pitcher Erik Gonsalves shutting down the Pacifics for eight innings.
Gonsalves yielded four earned runs – though three of the runs he was charged with scored after he exited the game in the ninth – on six hits, with nine strikeouts and a walk to improved his record to 3-2 with the win.
Reid Chenworth had two hits in the productive fourth frame, as the Stompers batted around, with Steve Rinaudo delivering a two-RBI single, Mirabal adding an RBI single, and Manny Ramirez belting a two-run homer.
Rinaudo finished the day three-for-five and three RBIs, as Sonoma’s three newest players had good games, with Ramirez, Del Valle and Hibbert each having two hits.
The Stompers’ first run of the game in the top of the first was scored by Ray after he walked with two outs, stole second on the first pitch to the next batter Steve RInaudo, and scored on a wild play when he stole third and came all the way home on a wild pitch from DeBarr that went to the backstop.
Back at Albert Park on Sunday, the Stompers fell short in their quest to sweep the series, as San Rafael got a stifling pitching performance from Patrick Conroy and salvaged the series with a 6-1 win.
With the loss the Stompers fell to 13-11 as of presstime, and are jusgt one game behind Vallejo.
The next Stompers game will be Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at Arnold Field in Somoma for the franchise’s home opener. Great tickets are still available for all home games.
Tickets are still available for tonight’s Sonoma home opener at Arnold Field, and Stompers’ season tickets can be purchased at stompersbaseball.com or eventbrite.com/e/2014-sonoma-stompers-season-tickets-33-home-games-tickets-11232656177.