Gold Sox hurlers post fifth shutout
Pitching coaches oftentimes don't receive proper accolades when his pitching staff is dominant night-in and night-out.
However, Gold Sox manager Brad Peek is quick to point a finger Jason Danna's way when mentioning the staff's recent performances.
The Gold Sox pitching staff was nearly unhittable again Saturday, their third straight game, with three pitchers combining on a three-hit shutout in a 3-0 Horizon Air Summer Series victory over the Oakland Eagles.
The Gold Sox (30-10, 26-7) have taken two of three from the Eagles (21-20, 16-17) and will finish the three-game set tonight in a nonseries contest. Yuba-Sutter will be trying to sweep the Eagles for the second time this season in their final meeting. The Eagles won a 13-5 game in Oakland in June.
Team ace Tyler Pearson threw a two-hit complete game gem Thursday over the Solano Thunderbirds, and Matt Huff, Kody Keroher and Jake McKinley worked a six-hit shut out Friday over the Eagles.
It was Kyle Hill (5-0) who became the only Gold Sox starting pitcher to record five wins without a loss Saturday, and Jason Peters was rusty but did enough to earn his team-leading eighth save. Steve Alverson worked the sixth and seventh, walking two and fanning one.
"Three or four weeks ago, (the Eagles) bombed our staff, and I think we wanted to come out and prove something," Danna said. "We had good focus, got ahead and finished hitters. We pitched through jams and that gave us confidence."
The Eagles touched five of Danna's pitchers for 17 hits on June 21, including Hill, who gave up seven earned runs on eight hits in two innings of relief.
There were no signs of struggle from Hill this time around.
He gave up a first-inning single off the wall in left to Isaiah Lilly and a shallow single to center by Sam Ray in the fourth. He left Ray stranded at third in the second.
Hill seemed to be rolling, throwing just 43 pitches through five innings, but Peek pulled him for Alverson.
"Our relief pitching just hasn't had a chance to pitch much," Peek said, noting his starters' recent dominate outings. "As much as we like to win and I like to win, we are still here to develop these players. Everyone needs to get a chance to pitch some innings. When I did pull him, he said it was fine because his arm was a little tender."
Alverson allowed Ray to reach third in the seventh, but got out of the jam by way of an inning-ending double-play.
Peters allowed a hit, walked three and put the tying run at the plate with two outs in the ninth. He induced a ground ball force-out by third baseman Doug Thennis to end the game and was fortunate to receive an inning-ending double play in the eighth with runners at first and second.
"He hadn't pitched in a week and had no chance of doing any side work," Danna said. "He was rusty and trying to aim his pitches instead of using his mechanics."
Eagles starter Tyler Esperland (1-6) engaged himself into a duel with Hill through two innings. However, he allowed two runs and three hits in the third and another run in the seventh for the loss.
Cole Koester led off the third with a single up the middle and moved to second on Matt Vance's sacrifice-bunt. Jesse Rodgers brought Koester home with a double into right-center - his first of two hits - and went to third on A.J. Valentine's bloop single to left. Jason Searle's 30th RBI, a ground-out, brought Rodgers home.
"Cole had that good base hit up the middle, and Rodgers had a good night. He hit two balls right on the money," Peek said.
Peek showed his usual aggressiveness on the base paths, sending Junior Contreras home on a suicide squeeze in the seventh with Koester at the plate.
Contreras reached on a double to the wall in left - his second hit of the game - and went to second on Greg Thomas' sacrifice-bunt. Koester came up and dropped a first-pitch bunt down the first-base line, allowing Contreras to score easily without a play.
"You have to have the right guy at the plate and Koester is an excellent bunter," Peek said. "A big part is, you have to get a pitch you can somewhat handle. Junior did a good job not tipping off the play to soon and it was a perfect bunt."
Appeal-Democrat reporter Justin Miller can be reached at 749-4796. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org