Pacifics Fall to Open Series
Defensive Miscues Spark Stompers Rallies in 13-4 Loss
By Vinnie Longo
August 19, 2016
Sonoma, CA -
Last week Sonoma beat San Rafael 13-4 to open up a three game sweep. It was a crushing defeat and series that helped squander the Pacifics three-game lead in the second half standings. The Pacifics got the offense going early against Sonoma with a two-run homer by Jake Taylor in the first inning, and it looked like San Rafael would be able to hold onto the momentum they built in a thrilling win against Pittsburg on Thursday night.
But by the middle innings, it was deja vu all over again, as Sonoma put across 11 runs over a three-inning span to cruise to a dominating win to open another series at People’s Home Equity Park.
“This isn’t how we pictured this series starting, but we came in here with a clear objective of winning this series and that’s still possible,” said Pacifics Manager Matt Kavanaugh. “We can pull some positives out of this game, but our focus right now is taking this series to help set us up for the final week of the season.”
The Pacifics have struggled in Sonoma this year, going 6-7 in games at People’s Home Equity Park, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Since the second half began on July 15, San Rafael is just 1-6 in Sonoma, and they’ve lost their last six contests at the Stompers’ home field.
Much like they did twice last week last week, Sonoma added on to their lead continuously throughout the middle innings to put the Pacifics further and further in the hole before the lead appeared to be insurmountable.
Patrick Barnett (L, 3-5) went just five innings, but was only charged with two earned runs out of the six he allowed because of mistakes behind him. The wheels fell off in the fifth when, with the game tied at two, Scott David singled through the right side to start the inning. Barnett induced a harmless fly-out form Joel Carranza to bring up Daniel Baptista. On the 0-1 pitch, Baptista bounced one up the middle that Chase Tucker made a great diving play on to stop from trickling into center.
But Tucker couldn’t get a clean transition to his bare hand out of the dive to flip to second, so he attempted to retire Baptista at first, but he threw it wide, allowing David to reach third and Baptista to reach. In a matter of seconds, elation at a fanatic defensive play had turned to potential disaster. Yuki Yasuda followed Baptista by executing a perfect safety-squeeze up the first base line, scoring David as the go-ahead run and moving Baptista to second. Derrick Fox then singled to score Baptista and Mark Hurley blasted a two-run homer to right to give Sonoma a four-run inning.
The Stompers would score three in the sixth inning, two earned, off of Julian Esquibel, and another four (three earned) in the seventh off of Michael Kershner. Tyler Herr, a bright spot for the Pacifics on the night, struck out the side in a perfect eighth inning.
The game changed its tenor in the top half of the third inning. To that point, the Pacifics looked like they were poised to cruise. Jake Taylor was aboard at first with two outs and San Rafael leading 2-0 when Maikel Jova shot a ground ball down the left field line for extra bases. As Taylor was approaching third, Hurley kicked the ball into the left-field corner, prompting Matt Kavanaugh to send Taylor home. Hurley paired with Randy Santiestaban for a sensational 7-6-2 relay to cut down Taylor at the plate.
It was the right call to send Taylor, Sonoma needed perfect throws from Hurley and Santiestaban to get the out. But as has been par for the course lately against Sonoma, the Stompers’ throws were perfect, their grounders had enough english on them to stifle the Pacifics defense, and they bunched their hits and runs.
The Pacifics plated another two runs in the eighth inning on RBI singles from Johnny Bekakis and Kyle Adie, but the rally was too little, too late in the ballgame to make a true difference.
With eight games remaining, San Rafael and Sonoma are tied for first in the second half standings. The Pacifics will look to even the series on Saturday. First pitch will be at 5:05 PM, and live coverage can be found on the radio at pacificsbaseball.com or on Twitter by following @SRPacifics.