Big Sixth Inning Lifts Sonoma
Pace and Gonzalez Retired in Pregame Ceremony
By Vinnie Longo
August 27, 2016
San Rafael, CA -
Not 24 hours after the Stompers had clinched the 2016 Pacific Association Championship, the Pacifics found themselves holding a lead over Sonoma in the sixth inning. Nick DeBarr, who had fallen on hard times this season, had been pitching brilliantly through is first five innings, but found himself in the midst of a jam.
DeBarr surrendered a one-out single to Derrick Fox and then Yuki Yasuda reached when Mark Lindsay was called for catcher’s interference. Jose Flores hit a single to the right side to load the bases, but DeBarr was just a grounder away from getting out of the jam. He got his grounder, off the bat of Taylor Thurber, but it was a high chopper that wasn’t conducive to a double play. Jourdan Weiks charged in from second base and fielded the hop above his head but his throw was wide, allowing two runs to score on the play, which brought the Stompers to within one.
Then the floodgates opened.
Adam Ogburn singled through the right side to score Flores before Erick Gonsalves, who was batting for himself as the starting pitcher, blasted a three-run homer to left to put Sonoma up 7-4. The Stompers would never look back, cruising to a 10-5 victory and handing the Pacifics their third consecutive series loss to end the season.
Flores, Ogburn, and Gonsalves, who are the closer, setup man, and a starting pitcher for Sonoma respectively, combined for four of the Stompers’ nine hits and seven of their RBIs, providing a solid case against the use of the DH. Flores’s RBIs came on a bases-clearing double in the ninth inning.
“With rosters expanded today, this was a great chance to get guys who haven’t played much this year some live reps before the season ends,” said Pacifics Manager Matt Kavanaugh. “Sonoma put up a couple of crooked numbers on us in the middle innings and our defense made a couple of bad mistakes that ended up costing us in the end.”
Although the game on the field was compelling, it was the activities before the game that stole the show. In a pregame ceremony, the Pacifics retired center fielder Zack Pace and shortstop Daniel Gonzalez, who have been instrumental in the Pacifics success over the franchise’s five seasons.
Pace, who has been starting in center and batting leadoff for nearly every game in Pacifics history, slapped a single in the sixth inning. Pace finished third in MVP voting in 2014 and has won two Defensive Player of the Year awards for the Pacifics. Gonzalez has donned a Pacifics uniform in every season since 2013, finished with two hits, an RBI, and a run scored on the night. The shortstop was the Rookie of the Year in the North American League in 2011 and was the Defensive Player of the Year at shortstop in 2015. Almost on cue after his defense was lauded throughout the ceremony, Gonzalez made a spectacular bare-handed play on a chopper up the middle to retire the side in the first.
A sellout crowd was on hand to witness the ceremony, which included the families of both Pace and Gonzalez and former Pacifics stars Chase Fontaine and Danny Rogers. The two retirees both addressed the crowd, thanking them for their support of the Pacifics during their time here. Reliever Michael Kershner also announced his retirement on Saturday evening, following his fantastic two innings of work. Kershner struck out five hitters and didn’t allow a hit on the night and received a standing ovation as he departed the mound for what might be his final time in a professional setting.
The Pacifics return to the diamond for their final game in 2016 on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is at 1:05 PM for Fan Appreciation Day at Albert Park, where the Pacifics will be hosting giveaways during every half inning, including the grand prize giveaway of a Night in San Rafael on the Pacifics. Tickets are still available at pacificsbaseball.com.