Sonoma Stompers’ newest players provide spark in early season games
The Sonoma Stompers are still trying to find their footing in Pacific Association play this summer. They've split the first four games and have a 2-2 record, which is only disappointing if you remember their record-setting run in the 2018 season when they ended with 57 wins against 23 loses.
The big loss came in the final game of the playoffs, when the San Rafael Pacifics beat them and stole the league title that the Stompers had their eye on all year.
Tuesday night, they met the Pacifics for the first time this year, part of their four-game home stand at Arnold Field. Wily veteran Nick Barnese took the hill for the Stompers and gave up two runs in the first inning. When he left after only three innings, due to a high pitch count – manager Zack Pace doesn't want to wear out his starters the first week of the season – the Stompers held a 3-2 lead.
Barnese had trouble commanding the strike zone early in the first inning, allowing back-to-back walks to open the game. After two quick outs, Rayson Romero bobbled a grounder at shortstop off the bat of Jimmy Lunardelli, leading to the Pacifics' first run. Taylor Zeutenhorst then smacked an RBI single to left, extending the lead to 2-0.
The Stompers bounced back quickly in the bottom half of the inning with Nick Gotta and Miles Williams delivering back-to-back singles off of San Rafael starter Neil Lang. Then Dondrei Hubbard smashed his third home run in as many games, putting the Stompers ahead 3-2.
The lead evaporated when left-hander Cole Watts took over in the top of the fourth. Watts, another returning Stomper, struggled to find the strike zone. He walked three and allowed back-to-back triples to Corey Dempster and Jimmy Lunardelli, giving San Rafael a 6-3 lead.
He allowed another run in the top of the fifth inning, retiring the first two batters before walking Ermindo Escobar who eventually scored on a wild pitch, making the score 7-3.
The Stompers added a run in the bottom of the seventh inning on a throwing error, but that was all she wrote as the Stompers dropped the game 7-4.
The next night, Wednesday, June 5, the Stompers returned to Palooza Park and faced the Vallejo Admirals for the first time this year, making it one game each against their four league rivals.
New Stomper Konnor Arnold started the game and pitched five strong, giving up only two hits and a walk but striking out nine. He let a run slip across in the top of the fifth, but the Stompers got three in the bottom of the inning to take the lead
The home team's scoring began with a home run from Brock Hartley off Dakota Freese. Then Jacob Barfield walked, and Gaudencio 'Champi' Lucca — literally the newest Stomper, having signed just before the game — doubled to put a runner on third. Not letting the opportunity escape, Nick Gotta singled to drive home both runners for the 3-1 lead, which turned out to be the final score.
Arnold got the win, Freese the loss, and the game ended with the Stompers at 2-2 on the year, the Admirals at 2-3. The Pacifics' 3-1 record puts them on top at this one-week mark in the 2019 season.
The Stompers traveled to Napa to meet the Silverados on Thursday night (results too late for press time), then face Vallejo on Friday and the Silverados again on Saturday, all away games.
Next appearance in Sonoma is Tuesday, June 11, when the Sonoma team has another chance to greet the traveling Salina Stockade. Game time is 6:05 at Arnold Field.
For more, visit stompersbaseball.com.