Pacifics Fall Out of First Place
8-2 Loss to Sonoma Leaves Pacifics One Game Back with Seven Left
By Vinnie Longo
August 20, 2016
Sonoma, CA -
It’s tough to carry storylines form one season to the next in independent minor league baseball. With so much roster turnover and teams coming and going from existence every year, the cores that make up great teams will rarely stay together for longer than a year or two, at best. As such, it’s also difficult to maintain a high level of success in consecutive years. But somehow, every year, the Pacifics have found themselves in the thick of the pennant race at the end of it all.
But this year the script is different. For the first time ever, the Pacifics are on the outside looking in.
In 2015, the Pacifics were unstoppable in the month of August. Their hitting was feeding their pitching, their defense was feeding their pitching, and their pitching was feeding their offense. They were a unit, and they ran away with the momentum at the end of the season. This season, the Sonoma Stompers are nearly following that script to the letter, while the Pacifics have been slipping away for the better part of the last three weeks.
San Rafael has left runners on base, they’ve made defensive mistakes, and they’ve made poor pitches in the wrong situations. It’s been a confluence of slumps from every angle. And the slump contagion reared its ugly head once again on Saturday night.
The tone for the game was set in the top first inning. With one out, San Rafael was gifted a bases-loaded chance when Kyle Adie reached on an infield single, Jake Taylor was safe on an error, and Mike Taylor was plunked in the back. Maikel Jova nubbed a grounder back to the mounded that spot-starter Erik Gonsalves fielded to throw out Adie at home, leaving the bases loaded for Brent Gillespie. Gillespie hit one on the nose, but it one-hopped right into the glove of Randy Santiesteban, who was able to underhand to Yuki Yasuda at second to end the inning.
Such was the story of the Pacifics offense.
Meanwhile, Sonoma continued to apply pressure, as they’ve done throughout the series and the month. They plated two runs in the third inning when Santiesteban and Matt Hibbert doubled back-to-back to start the frame. Daniel Baptista drove home Hibbert with a single later in the inning, and Sonoma would never looked back.
The Stompers chased starter James McReyonlds (L, 0-1) after 4.2 innings, who gave up three runs on five hits while striking out six and walking five. David Johnson came on to replace McReynolds in the fifth and got out of a jam before giving up a two-run homer to Scott David in the sixth inning, giving Sonoma a 5-0 lead.
Gonsalves (W, 2-1) was dominant over his first seven innings, scattering four hits while shutting the Pacifics offense down. Finally San Rafael broke through in the eighth inning when Mike Taylor blasted his first home run in a Pacifics uniform, and twelfth of the season, scoring Zack Pace and putting the Pacifics on the board, 5-2. Gonsalves would finish the eighth inning for his longest outing of the season.
But Sonoma would tack on an extra three homers in the bottom of the eighth when David homered with two aboard, putting the game out of reach by the final score of 8-2.
San Rafael has now lost six straight games in Sonoma, and with the loss the Pacifics have slipped out of first place in the Pacific Association second half standings for the first time since July 17, the third day of the second half.
San Rafael will hope to avoid the series sweep by sending veteran right-hander Nick DeBarr to the mound on Sunday evening. First pitch is at 5:05 PM and live coverage can be found on the radio pacificsbaseball.com or on Twitter by following @SRPacifics.