Stars Pickup Second Walk-Off Win in Three Nights
For the second time in three days, the Sonoma County Grapes rallied back from an early deficit, only to give it away with a game-deciding blunder that handed the Hawai`i Stars a 3-2 win in front of a scattered gathering of 130 fans at Wong Stadium.
With the game tied at two in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Stars put got back-to-back singles against reliever Vinny Pacchetti with one out on the frame. The next batter, Matt Hibbert, struck out on a pitch that was in the dirt and bounced behind home plate. Hibbert ran toward first base, and catcher Tyler Finley threw the ball off of his body, sending the ball into foul territory and bringing Reece Alnas home to score the winning run.
In actuality, Finley never needed to make the throw to first base. By rule, with first base occupied and less then two out in an inning, a hitter who strikes out on a pitch that reaches the dirt cannot attempt to reach base. Finley didn’t realize it when he picked up the loose baseball, and his mental error, which was also an E2 in the scorebook, turned out to be the deciding play.
Pacchetti (1-3) has not had the best of luck pitching at Wong Stadium. He failed to record an out in a losing effort on Tuesday night, and picked up the loss in relief Thursday. In an inning and two-thirds, he allowed four hits and the game-ending unearned run, while striking out three Stars hitters.
Hawai`i (14-13) took an early lead off of starter Ross Pomerantz by plating two runs in the bottom of the third inning. With Steve Tedesco at second base and one out in the frame, Matt Hibbert dribbled a base hit through the left side of the diamond. Left fielder George Ban bobbled the baseball as he ran in to field it, allowing Tedesco to score on the play and Hibbert to move to second base. Two batters later, Brenden Davis muscled a single into center field that scored Hibbert to give the Stars a 2-0 lead.
Hawai`i starter Andrew Miller did a great job of keeping that lead intact, allowing only three hits in his first five innings of work. In the sixth, he got himself in trouble by allowing a lead-off walk to Colin Bryan, following by a hit-by-pitch to the hand of Brandon Gregorich. Miller nearly danced out of trouble, but three batters later, Sam Perry’s RBI single scored Bryan to cut the home team’s lead in half.
In the next inning, the Grapes (10-17) used the power to even the game up against Miller. With one man retired, third baseman Michael Johnson crushed a solo home run out to left field, just missing to the left of the scoreboard to tie the game at two.
Miller would not be able to close the door on the inning. He finished with a no decision after pitching six and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and three walks. The win went to Paul Jinkens, who retired all seven batters he faced. The right-hander improved to 3-1 on the season with the victory.
Brenden Davis and Reece Alnas both were spectacular at the plate for the Stars. Davis went 4-for-4, all on singles in the first, third, fifth, and eighth innings, while picking up his twelfth RBI of the season in the third inning and extending his hitting streak to six games. Meanwhile, Alnas picked up three hits in four at-bats, as well as a stolen base and a run scored. And, Tedesco racked up two hits on the evening to move his batting average up to .262 on the season.
Johnson was the only Sonoma County player to pair hits, picking up his first home run of the season to go along with his third inning single.
Pomerantz went seven innings for the Grapes in a decision-free effort. He allowed two runs, one of them earned, on eight hits with three strikeouts.
The game started late following a 21 minute rain delay, which came from heavy showers that soaked the field throughout the afternoon. Heavy showers came down during the sixth and seventh innings, but did not do enough damage to the field to force a stoppage of play. The remnants of Tropical Depression Daniel are expected to continue to bring showers to the island Friday.
Game four of the series is Friday night at 5:35 p.m. The Stars lead the six-game series with two wins so far this week.
Sonoma County 000 001 100 – 2 5 3
Hawai`i 002 000 001 – 3 12 0