Pacifics Walk Off to Clinch Home Field Advantage in Championship
Winning Run Scores on Wild Pitch
By Vinnie Longo
August 29, 2015
San Rafael, CA -
With home field advantage in the Pacific Association championship on, the Pacifics bats had been held quiet all night long. Sonoma starter Gregory Paulino had been all but perfect, holding the Pacifics to just four hits in eight shutout innings.
The rookie Jake Taylor was set to lead off the bottom of the ninth down 1-0, with the wind completely in the Stompers sails.
It took one pitch for everything to change.
Paulino delivered a first pitch breaking ball and Taylor crushed a literal moonshot toward the rising full moon over the left field wall, a high arcing blast that seemingly sucked all of the noise out of Albert Park as the capacity crowd drew a collective breath, and the game seemed to freeze. Then the wind caught it, the ball sailed over the wall, and all at once the moment came rushing back. Taylor had tied the game with one swing, and the Pacifics had momentum for the first time in the game.
“It was amazing, one of the best feelings I’ve felt,” said Taylor. “I hit a fastball hard last time, so I knew he was coming in off-speed on the first pitch. I sat back, he hung the pitch, and I put a good swing on it.”
“In three years here, that was the loudest I’ve ever heard this park,” said Pacifics Manager Matt Kavanaugh. “I’ve seen some clutch plays before, I’ve taken part in a few, but that homer was up there with the best of them.”
With reliever Erik Gonsalves in, Jeremy Williams, drew a 2-2 count before reaching on a broken bat single up the middle. The bat was brand new, but the sacrifice put the winning run on base. Then Chase Tucker laid down a bunt with the intention of sacrificing Williams into scoring position, but Tucker pushed it between the mound and first. Gonsalves had trouble corralling the ball and then tossed it into shallow right, allowing Williams to take third and Tucker second base.
Gonsalves intentionally walked Ricky Gingras to load the bases and set up the righty on righty matchup with Adrian Martinez due up next. The Stompers loaded the infield with five fielders, but the defensive alignment would prove to be inconsequential.
The first pitch to Martinez broke away from catcher Matt Rubino’s glove and skidded to the backstop. Williams, off of a great jump, came home to score easily, and the Pacifics had their second walkoff win of the season and home field advantage in the championship game.
“When Taylor hit the home run, I knew that my only goal was to get on base,” said Williams. “Baseball’s a funny game and sometimes you need to make things happen. We put on the pressure, and we got the win because of it.”
Nick DeBarr was stellar on the hill for San Rafael, going seven and two thirds innings, allowing just one run on eight hits while stirking out eight. He didn’t issue a walk, but departed in the eighth with Yuki Yasuda on second base. Kavanaugh called Chris Lovejoy out of the bullpen, who struck out Daniel Baptista to end the inning.
Lovejoy struck out two in the ninth inning before Nick Hudson was summoned from the pen to face Chad Bunting. Bunting singled, but then Hudson battled back to strike out Kiristian Gayday to set up the game winning rally in the ninth.
Sonoma’s lone run came in the seventh inning, when Baptista, Gered Mochizuki, and Mark Hurley singled back-to-back-to-back. It was the only time that DeBarr would falter in the game.
The Pacifics will return to action for the final matchup of the three-game series on Sunday on Fan Appreciation Day. The Pacifics will have giveaways after every half-inning, including autographed items from Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, Dusty Baker, Jeffrey Leonard, and more! Plus it'll be the final Ghilotti Bros. Inc. “Sunday Funday” of the year, with a jump house provided by Jubilee Jumps. For tickets and more information, please visit pacificsbaseball.com.