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Stompers stumble, ‘Spaceman’ cometh

Sonoma's TJ Gavlik (left) completes a double play as teammate Charlie Mirabal backs up the play during the Stompers one-run loss to Vallejo Tuesday night at Arnold Field. Bill Hoban/Index-Tribune

Sonoma's TJ Gavlik (left) completes a double play as teammate Charlie Mirabal backs up the play during the Stompers one-run loss to Vallejo Tuesday night at Arnold Field. Bill Hoban/Index-Tribune

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Wrapping up a six-game Pacific Association of Professional Baseball League home-stand with an exciting and interesting diamond weekend in the Valley, the Sonoma Stompers fell from the top spot in the second half of the season with back-to-back losses to the visiting Vallejo Admirals.

In Tuesday night’s PAPB home series opener at Arnold Field, the Stompers immediately found themselves down 4-0 after Vallejo catcher Isaac Wenrich’s grand slam in the top of the first inning, but rallied back to tie the game at 4-4 on a home run each by Andrew Parker, Steve Rinaudo and hot-hitting Joel Carranza.

For Carranza, it was his league home-run leading 13th homer.

But shortstop Elvin Rodriguez connected on a two-run homer in the sixth frame to give the Admirals a lead they wouldn’t relinquish as Sonoma got one run back in the bottom of the ninth before dropping a 6-5 decision.

Pacing the Stompers were Parker and Rinaudo’s home run, two RBIs and one run scored each; Carranza’s homer, RBI and run; Reid Chenworth’s double and run; and Ray’s single and run.

Again on Wednesday evening Sonoma fell behind early, but this time there would be no comeback as the Admirals jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead, then put the hammer down with a five-run top of the fifth, and added a three spot in the seventh en route to a runaway 10-2 win.

The Stompers, who could muster only five hits, while making three errors, were paced by Charlie Mirabal’s double and two RBIs; TJ Gavlik’s double and run; a single apiece by Carranza, Ray and Glenn Walker; and Parker’s run.

Sonoma attempted to avoid a series sweep by the Admirals last night – results not available at presstime – and host the Pittsburg Mettle in the first of a three-game series at 7:05 p.m. tonight at Arnold Field.

Then at the same starting time tomorrow evening, Saturday, Aug. 9, 67-year-old former standout Major League pitcher and colorful on-and-off-the-field character Bill “Spaceman” Lee takes the mound to pitch against the Pittsburg Mettle in a one-game appearance for the Stompers.

It will be the third straight season that Lee played in a PAPB game, throwing a 94-pitch complete-game win for the San Rafael Pacifics in 2012, and last year he added an amazing accomplishment to his still on-going baseball career by playing all nine positions in a game against Maui.

Lee started the game behind the plate and ended on the mound for the Pacifics, while going 2-for-4 with an RBI in a 5-3 win.

The first 500 fans to attend the game will receive an honorary poster of Lee throwing a pitch.

Along with the “Spaceman” pitching, the Space Station Museum of Novato will also be on hand for fans to enjoy the lunar rover, or “moon buggy,” which is an exact replica of what was used in the famed moon landing of Apollo 11, currently celebrating its 45th anniversary.

The Sonoma Stompers are also hosting a Rally Towel Night sponsored by Mara Kahn – The Wine Country Realtor – with the first 250 fans receiving a Stompers Rally Towel.

On Sunday, Aug. 10, Sonoma hosts the Mettle at 1 p.m.

Tickets start at $3 and can be purchased online at stompersbaseball.com or at the Arnold Field box office, which opens one hour before the first pitch of every home game.