Pacifics Can’t Complete Comeback
Double Plays Doom Offense in 4-3 Loss
By Vinnie Longo
August 24, 2016
Pittsburg, CA -
In a season that has been filled with wild comebacks, the Pacifics found themselves threatening for another one in Pittsburg on Wednesday. A step away from having their backs against the wall in the second half standings, San Rafael found themselves trailing throughout the entire game.
But once Corey MacDonald gave way to Rob Ellis in the seventh inning, with the Diamonds leading 4-3, the Pacifics came through with chances to tie the game. Daniel Gonzalez smacked a single to left with one out, Zack Pace grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Kyle Adie duplicated Gonzalez’s effort to start the eighth inning, lining a sharp single to left, once again putting the tying run aboard. This time, there was nobody out and the heart of the order was due up. Things were as perfectly set up as they could’ve been. But Mike Taylor harmlessly flied out to right and Jake Taylor hit into a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play.
Brent Gillespie fell behind 0-2 to Ellis to start the ninth inning and then clubbed a sinking line drive to center field that looked like would give the Pacifics another strong start to the inning, but Jordan Hinshaw came out of nowhere and dove headlong for the ball. It was a do-or-die play: if he made the catch, it was a game saving play; if he missed and the ball squirted by, he risked the ball leaking to the wall and Gillespie rounding the bases. But the ball softly nestled into the pocket of Hinsahw’s outstretched glove, and with that the Pacifics hopes of a rally died. Joe Lewis retired Maikel Jova and struck out Chase Tucker to end the game and send the Pacifics to their fifth straight loss, 4-3.
“We had our chances tonight and we weren’t able to put enough runs across to back up our pitcher, who threw a great game,” said Pacifics Manager Matt Kavanaugh. “We made two huge defensive mistakes that accounted for three of their runs. Those were the difference in the ballgame.”
Patrick Conroy (L, 5-2) was tagged with three unearned runs thanks to a first inning error on Kyle Adie on a single that squirted by and to an error of Conroy’s own on a high popup in front of the plate. Adie’s error allowed Jose Garcia to score in the first and put Hinshaw in position to score on Kelly Starnes’s single up the middle. Conroy’s mishap put Nick Oddo on second base to start the fourth inning. Starnes drove home Oddo with a triple and then scored on a Rich Mejia groundout.
It was all the offense that Pittsburg would muster over the game. Conroy masterfully navigated a still-potent Diamonds offense in his six and two thirds innings of work, scattering six hits. Between the first and fourth inning he set down seven straight Diamonds hitters, giving the Pacifics the chance to come back from their early deficit.
Corey MacDonald (W, 4-6) deftly navigated through trouble in his six innings. MacDonald effectively used his sinker to get Pacifics hitters to pound the ball into the ground, and only allowed a handful of loud pieces of contact throughout the night. Lewis picked up his fifth save of the season, and his second in as many games, with his ninth inning work.
With Sonoma’s loss to Vallejo, the Pacifics still trail the Stompers by three games with four left in the regular season, but now find themselves in a must-win contest on Thursday evening. A Pacifics loss paired with a Stompers win would clinch the second half championship, and therefore the Pacific Association Championship, for Sonoma. If San Rafael were to win out their remaining four games, they would force a championship game agains the Stompers.
The Pacifics will attempt to salvage a game against Pittsburg in the series finale on Thursday evening. First pitch is at 7:05 PM and live coverage can be found on the radio at pacificsbaseball.com or on Twitter by following @SRPacifics.