Salinas packs up Gold Sox
Thursday, June 2, 2005 - Brad Peek had the match-up he wanted.
With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth, the Gold Sox manager put runners on first and second with two outs by calling for an intentional walk of John Allman.
Too bad Salinas' Jose Valerio knew what the Gold Sox were hoping for.
“They thought I'd swing at the first pitch,” Valerio said. “I swung at the first pitch my last three at bats and they probably saw that in their book.”
This time Valerio let Wes Porter's first offering fly past. The second pitch he blasted off the left-field wall to drive in two runs and give the Salinas Valley Packers a 3-1 lead that would withstand a Gold Sox rally in the bottom of the ninth Thursday at All Seasons Stadium in Marysville.
“(The intentional walk) pumped me up a little bit,” said Valerio, who was 2-for-5 with three RBIs. “I just tried to drive it.”
Jordan Prado was hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom half of the inning and Junior Contreras followed with his second double of the night to give the Gold Sox second and third with one out. Billy Sinacori struck out and catcher Jonny Norfolk, replacing Ricky Bambino who re-injured his throwing hand trying to gun down a runner stealing second, floated a bloop into shallow right.
Jordan Ballark, who had struck out four times, prevented the tying run from scoring by laying out for a diving catch to end the game.
“A couple of inches shallower and it's a tie game,” Peek said. “In a close game you can look at 50 different plays that made a difference.”
While the heart of the order struggled, the top four Gold Sox in the line-up were a combined 1-for-13, defense and pitching kept Yuba-Sutter in the game, stranding 11 Salinas runners through the first seven innings.
Starting pitcher Kyle Hill did his job, going 52/3, striking out six and not allowing a run, despite plunking four batters.
“Kyle Hill pitched fine,” Peek said. “ He attacked the strike zone. We still haven't seen him at his absolute best.”
The patchwork outfield of Sinacori, Contreras and Zach Weidenaar filled holes left by the Gold Sox second leading hitter Matt Suleski, who has a pulled hamstring, and Billy Krause, who is still a week away from fully recovering from knee surgery, and was responsible for many of Salinas' stranded runners.
In the fifth, Sinacori fired home to cut down Pat Burgess who was trying to score from second on a single. In the sixth, Weidenaar turned a hit off the right-center wall into a single instead of a double.
“Weidenaar did an outstanding job out there. It's never good when a ball is hit off the wall though,” Peek said.
The Gold Sox broke a scoreless tie in the fifth. Ricky Bambino in his second at-bat for the Gold Sox this season, lead off with a double down the left-field line. Cole Koester laid down a well-placed sacrifice bunt, but Burgess, the Salinas first baseman, fielded the ball and turned only to discover an empty first base, at least until Koester arrived safely.
Bambino scored when Weidenaar grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
Despite only six hits, Peek remained confident in his offense.
“We hit some balls hard today,” Peek said. “You can't always judge it on how many hits or runs there are. I don't think it was an off night for us.”
Notes: NHK, a public broadcasting channel in Japan, was on hand to continue filming on their documentary on the beginning of pro baseball in Japan. The first Japanese league started after the Yomiuri Giants of 1935 toured the states playing baseball. Their first stop, Marysville.