Gold Sox complete sweep
The Gold Sox finally have some days off.
And they couldn't have come at a better time.
Yuba-Sutter completed a four-game, nonleague series sweep against the Oakland Eagles after a 5-0 win Sunday night in Marysville.
The Gold Sox (27-8), who have won seven in a row, finished up a stretch of 23 games in 27 days with a first-place showdown with the Santa Barbara Foresters looming Friday through Sunday.
The Eagles (21-13) had chances to win three of the four games and got a strong pitching performance from James McNeil in this one but could never get the decisive hit to put them over the top.
“The big thing for us was when our pitchers seemed to make a mistake, their hitters were pounding doubles,” said Oakland manager Brant Cummings. “When their pitchers were making mistakes, our guys were fouling pitches off. We were really scratching for runs.”
The Gold Sox clubbed 10 doubles and two triples in the series. Yuba-Sutter pitchers walked only five batters, something that Yuba-Sutter manager Brad Peek thought was one of the differences.
On Sunday, it was winning pitcher Blake Knabenshue (5-1) and four relievers combining for the shutout.
Knabenshue (5-1), in his first start of the year, pitched five sharp innings, allowing two hits, striking out two and walking one.
“He was at 50 pitches on the button,” Peek said. “We only wanted him to go five and keep him fresh for next week. He's so valuable out of the pen for us, but he had the opportunity here for a start. He also may get a start in the last series of the year.”
Yuba-Sutter scored single runs against McNeil in the second, third and sixth. McNeil (Diablo Valley College), using an effective slider, struck out eight, walked six but only allowed five hits in seven innings.
Ricky Bambino's soaring double, which looked more like a long fly ball, scored Jason Searle for the first run of the game in the second inning.
Ryan Angel doubled with one out and scored on Buddy Morales' double in the third.
McNeil (1-1) issued four bases on balls in the sixth with Jeney's walk forcing home Kyle Maunus.
Cummings didn't think McNeil got squeezed on Maunus' walk in the inning but acknowledged that his pitchers might have been nibbling too much in the series.
“We want our guys to pitch to contact,” he said. “We tell them, ‘Don't be afraid of contact.' ”
Shick doubled and scored on A.J. Valentine's sacrifice fly against reliever Erik Gellerman to make it 4-0 in the seventh.
The only threat for Knabenshue came in the second when he allowed two-out singles to Dusty Sulon and Joey Clark. However, Morales, the catcher, back-picked Clark off first base to end the threat.
It was Morales' fifth pickoff of the season. He has yet to throw the ball away, a common occurrence for other young catchers.
“Buddy has been looking for that all year, and he's pretty effective,” Peek said. “Sometimes (a catcher) can fall in love with that.”
The Gold Sox were 18-5 during their 23-game stretch in 27 days.
Notes: The shutout was Yuba-Sutter's fifth of the year ... Angel extended his hitting streak to seven games ... Shick, who was hit with a pitch three times in the last two days, leads the team in that category with eight ... Valentine's sacrifice fly in the seventh was the team's 17th of the year ... The two teams combined for five hit batters.
Appeal-Democrat assistant sports editor Matt O'Donnell can be reached at 749-4796. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.