Defensive smarts lift Novato to win
Monday, May 30, 2005 - It took a fabulous play by Novato Knicks shortshop Joe McGlouglin in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday night to help hand the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox their first loss of the season.
McGlouglin squashed a potential winning rally by starting an unusual double play that ended with the tying run being gunned down at the plate as the Knicks salvaged the final game of the season-opening series with the Gold Sox 2-1.
Despite the loss, the Gold Sox (3-1, 3-0) remain in first place in the Don McCullough Division with a record of 3-0 in the Horizon Air Summer Series standings. Monday night's game did not count as an official Horizon Air Summer Series game.
.9 percent of the time, you're going to score in that situation,” said Gold Sox manager Brad Peek, describing the play in the last inning. “But their shortshop made a huge play on the ball and then a perfect throw to the plate.”
Trailing by one run in the bottom of the ninth, the Gold Sox got the tying run on base when leadoff hitter Billy Sinacori ripped a solid single to left field. Catcher Mike Wilkes, who had walked the previous three times at bat, then put down a perfect sacrifice bunt. The throw by Novato catcher Ramses Moran got past first base, leaving Wilkes at first while Sinacori went to third on the error.
With runners on first and third with no outs, things were looking good for the Gold Sox to pull off the come-from-behind win.
However, Jordan Prado hit a soft line drive past the pitcher and back up the middle where McClouglin snagged it on the hop. He touched second to force out Wilkes, but instead of throwing to first base for the traditional double play, he saw Sinacori breaking for home and threw a perfect ball to the plate where Moran easily applied the tag to keep, keeping the Gold Sox down a run.
Jesse Rodgers poked a single on the next at-bat, but with runners at first and second, the Knicks got pinch-hitter Zach Zwissig, a former Sutter High and Yuba College star, to foul out to first to end the game. Zwissig was filling as a reserve catcher with Jacob Myking going back home to Hawaii.
“The key to the double play was that the ball was softly hit toward shortshop,” Peek said. “Sinacori had to wait to see if the ball was going to be caught, so he hesitated before breaking for home.”
Looking to go 4-0 for the first time in team history, the Gold Sox never seem to get going offensively against a slew of Novato pitchers. Four Knick pitchers combined to allow eight hits, three walks and three hits batsman giving the Gold Sox hitters plenty of base runners to move around the bases. But four double plays kept the home team from getting no more than one run across home plate.
Peek came in the game with a game plan to use five pitchers. After getting some great pitching performances the last two games, Peek used Monday's game to give some other pitchers much-needed work.
Matt Huff started the game and pitched three innings, allowing just an unearned run in the second while giving up just one hit and one walk. Yuba City High product Alberto Rolon and Jason Peters pitched two innings each. Gary Simmons and Jake McKinley came in for one inning each. The five pitchers combined to hold Novato to just four hits while striking out seven.
“Our pitchers did an outstanding job tonight,” said Peek.
The lone Gold Sox run came in the sixth inning.
After Peters, who was forced to bat after Matt Suleski left the game with a hamstring pull in the second inning leaving the Gold Sox without a designated hitter, was hit with a pitch, A.J. Valentine drove a long fly ball off the center field wall for a double, driving in Peters, who had advanced to second on a wild pitch. Valentine had two hits to keep his batting average at .500 after four games.
Rodgers and Zach Weidenaar also had two hits to pace the Gold Sox.