Not everything went their way, but the Sonoma Stompers Professional Baseball Club, presented by Virginia Dare Winery, turned adversity into a 6-5 victory over Pittsburg to secure the Pacific Association first-half pennant with their third straight win last week.
Sonoma headed to extras on a strike out, throw out double play. In the 10th, manager Takashi Miyoshi put a double-steal play on with two outs. It worked again. His play helped Sonoma preserve a 6-3 lead.
“We have to stick to our strengths. I’m just really happy,” Miyoshi said.
Jacob Cox closed the game, earning the save for the second day in a row. The team crowded around Cox at the mound after the last out, cheering and popping champange corks.
“How many jobs do you get to have that you get to celebrate victories like this?” said Stompers president and general manager Theo Fightmaster. “In that sense, it’s really rewarding, in that sense, it doesn’t get old. The person who should get most of the credit, if not all of the credit, is Yoshi.”
Sonoma faced Pittsburg starter Travis Blackley, who last pitched in the Major Leagues for the Houston Astros in 2013.
Blackley allowed just one Sonoma run until the seventh, when Eddie Mora-Loera slid into home on a Yuki Yasuda sacrfice bunt, and Matt Hibbert drove in the second run of the frame to give the Stompers a two-run lead.
A two-run home run from Javier Marticorena evened the score in the bottom of the frame. Ryan Richardson retired the side after the knock, but it remained a 3-3 game until extras.
The Stompers took their first lead in the third inning on a Brennan Metzger ground ball. A ball off the bat of Yuki Yasuda earlier in the inning would have been a three-run homer, but was called foul.
The Diamonds tied the game in the bottom of that frame. Pittsburg struck for six hits off Plaza through six, managing two runs.
“Pittsburg is definitely an upgraded team,” Miyoshi said. “They are one of the best teams, so we really have to keep up, study them, just get prepared and play hard.”
With the victory, the Stompers improve to 25-10 on the season and ensure themselves a spot in the Pacific Association championship game at the end of the year. If the Stompers also secure the second-half title, there is no championship game, and Sonoma is the outright champion.
“I’m trying to get better, just like the players. I’m not a ‘great’ yet, but I’m just trying to be,” Miyoshi said. “We won the first half title, but it’s not the championship yet. Tomorrow, I’m just coming back and staying hungry, staying aggressive.”