Sox can clinch Horizon title against Longhorns
July 27, 2006 - With five more Horizon Air Summer Series games left on their schedule, the Gold Sox will need to win just three to clinch their first McCullough Division championship.
The Gold Sox will attempt to lower their magic number to two tonight when opening a four-game set against the NorCal Longhorns.
Solano won the McCullough title last year in the inaugural season of the Summer Series, and Gold Sox manager Brad Peek said winning the crown this season would mean a lot to the club because of an increased level of competition within the division.
“I felt like this year we had a lot of good teams in it and not too many were walk-over teams,” Peek said. “We have a lot of saves this year and that is indicative of the competition we're playing. Even the games we lost have been close.”
The Gold Sox split two games with the prestigious Humboldt Crabs earlier this month and just recently wrapped up a three-game sweep of the respected Santa Maria Indians.
Josh Roberts, who has been sidelined with an arm injury in recent weeks, leads the club with eight saves, and Yuba City High product Alberto Rolon has seven. The Gold Sox have 21 as a staff.
Starting pitcher Tyler Pearson (5-1) will try to become the first six-game winner when he climbs the hill tonight in his sixth start. Pearson was 6-3 with the Gold Sox last season.
“He's feeling pretty good,” Peek said. “I think he's looking forward to finishing the year strong and then going back to school and working hard to try and get drafted again next year.”
Ryan Zaft and Given Kutz are each looking for their sixth win of the season, as well. Zaft (5-1), who will start Friday's game, has been superb in each of his six starts and leads all starting pitchers with a 0.52 ERA.
Kutz (5-1) will start on Saturday. He has been just as effective as Zaft, sporting a 0.83 ERA in a team-leading 54 innings pitched.
Peek has not named his Sunday starter.
With just two weeks left in the season, Peek said there is plenty of time for some of his slumping players to improve.
“I'd like to see a couple guys get back to where they were,” he said. “Dees has been struggling lately, and I'd like to see Joél (Torres) improve his consistency. He has a good game, a bad game, then a good game and then a bad game. He just needs some consistency because it plays a lot into taking the next step in baseball.”
Dees led the team with a .414 batting average 16 games into the season but has been streaky since. He is currently stuck in a 0-for-16 slump. He is batting .243 with 12 RBIs.
“That's just the cruel nature of the game,” Peek said. “Sometimes you experiment too much and end up doing things you're not capable of doing.”
Torres is the third-leading hitter on the club with a .329 average. He has knocked home eight runs and is 14-of-15 in stolen base attempts.
“There is still a lot of time to work even though we're down to the last two weeks,” Peek said.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Justin Miller can be reached at 749-4796. You may e-mail him at email@example.com