By Matt O'Donnell/Appeal-Democrat
Wes Porter will have an imprint of Josh Roenicke's line drive on the inside of his knee to remember Thursday night's game against the Solano Thunderbirds.
It might have been worth it.
Porter and fellow relievers Gary Simmons and Brennan Garr combined for eight shutout innings as Yuba-Sutter rallied for a 6-4 California Collegiate League win Thursday night in Marysville.
The Gold Sox (30-11, 13-8) cooled off Solano (20-18, 6-10), which had won five in a row and nine of its last 10.
Roenicke lined a shot off Porter's right knee in the sixth inning to put runners at first and third with no outs. Porter fell to the ground in pain but eventually got back on the hill and escaped trouble.
“I didn't think he'd go back in, but he's tough,” said center fielder R.C. Dickerson. “He manned it out.”
Dickerson continued his success against the Thunderbirds after reaching base five times on two hits, two steals, a run scored and an RBI. While many of his teammates have struggled against Solano pitching, Dickerson is 9-for-14 on the year.
Down 4-0 after one inning, Yuba-Sutter chipped away with one in the fourth, two in the fifth and two in the sixth to tie and take the lead for good. The Thunderbirds gladly helped, making four errors, leading to three unearned runs.
Shortstop Matt Kamigawachi misplayed Mark Steinbeck's ground ball to open the sixth. Frank Jeney chopped back to pitcher Eric Van Slyke, who short-hopped first baseman Brett McMillan. Steinbeck scored all the way from first base, and Jeney motored all the way to third.
Jeney then scored on a controversial play when an inside pitch to Dickerson reached the backstop. The Thunderbirds reacted slowly on the play, thinking the ball had hit Dickerson.
“They thought it hit my foot,” said Dickerson, now hitting .348. “It hit the ground, less than a foot in front.”
Solano manager Phil Swimley argued to no avail.
Dickerson actually stole second and third with still no outs but was left stranded.
The Gold Sox added an insurance run in the eighth when Jeney reached second on a hit-and-error play and scored on Dickerson's single to left.
That was plenty for the Gold Sox pen. Porter pitched four innings, followed by three from Simmons (3-0), and Garr pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his team-leading fourth save. The three struck out five and allowed only six hits in those eight innings.
Solano sent 10 batters to the plate in the first against starting pitcher Craig Ayers. The right-hander walked in two of the runs. He then walked Steve Andres and had a 3 and 0 count on McMillan in the second before Peek lifted him for Porter.
“It was just one of those nights for Craig. He really hasn't had one of those,” Gold Sox manager Brad Peek said. “He didn't have it, but our relief pitching really saved our bacon.”
Yuba-Sutter got on the scoreboard for the first time in the fourth when Jason Searle doubled off Roenicke's glove at third base and scored on A.J. Valentine's single.
The Gold Sox added two more in the fifth, one on Garr's RBI double, and Cameron Shick scored when the Thunderbirds failed to turn an inning-ending double play.
Peek has sometimes gone longer with a starting pitcher who is struggling but is confident that Eric Thompson can go long against the Sacramento Scorch today.
“We've had lost three of four coming in,” Peek said. “It was important to win this game.”
Appeal-Democrat assistant sports editor Matt O'Donnell can be reached at 749-4796. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.