First loss for Gold Sox
The Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox are starting the 2004 season much like they began the 2003 slate.
In last year's season-opening series, the Gold Sox won their first two over the Novato Knicks and dropped the final game of the series.
After picking up three straight wins over the visiting Cenco Sultans to begin 2004, the Gold Sox were handed a 5-3 loss Monday to finish off the opening series in front of an announced crowd of 580.
The Gold Sox will begin California Coastal Collegiate League play Thursday when the Salinas Packers come to town for a four-game series.
Yuba-Sutter struggled at the plate and in the field against the Sultans on Monday.
The Gold Sox committed four errors and managed just five hits, two after the first inning.
Cenco starter Chris Raulinaitis picked up the win in five innings of work. He allowed three runs - none earned - on five hits while fanning four, walking a batter and hitting three. Vic Ferrante earned the save after striking out the side in the ninth.
Casey Hillman worked three innings for the Sultans, relieving Raulinaitis in the sixth, and allowed no hits while striking out three and walking a batter.
“They threw some guys who could mix it up,” Gold Sox manager Brad Peek said. “The guys didn't have velocity but their off-speed stuff was trouble. Then you think off-speed and they throw 80.”
The Gold Sox went through four pitchers with starter Eric Thompson getting the loss. Thompson went five innings and allowed four runs - three earned - on six hits. He struck out four, walked two and hit two.
“We hoped to get five innings out of (Thompson),” Peek said. “He needs to refine some things. His command is not sharp as it could or will be.”
The Sultans took a 4-2 lead in the third inning without hitting a ball out of the infield, taking advantage of three bunts and an error.
Dan Cody led off the inning with a bunt single and was moved to second after Nick Green bunted a slow roller that wasn't picked up in time by third baseman Kyle Maunus.
Mike Willeford bunted, and the Gold Sox attempt to throw Cody out at third was late, putting three runners on. Ferrante then hit a grounder to Frank Jeney at second, who had trouble with it, allowing Cody to tie it at 2-2.
“We have to do a better job at taking care of the baseball defensively,” Gold Sox manager Brad Peek said. “The first bunt was a base hit but the next two plays should have been made.”
Green came across to score after Johnny Zepeda walked and Willeford scored when Nique Speight was hit in the face by Thompson.
Speight threw his helmet off and fell to his knees, clutching his face. He appeared to be fine and trotted to first, but was replaced in the fourth.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Thompson got Jordan Lago to fly out, ending the threat and the inning.
The Gold Sox only productive inning came in the first.
R.C. Dickerson, who was 4-for-5 Sunday, reached first on an error by Lago at second base and eventually scored on Jason Searle's infield single to Willeford at shortstop with the bases loaded.
Jeney made it a 2-0 game after scoring on Buddy Morales' single to center.
The Gold Sox cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth.
Jeney was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and moved all the way to third after Hillman's pickoff attempt sailed into right field. Tom Everidge hit a deep fly to centerfield, Jeney tagged and came home.
The Sultans iced it with a run in the ninth when Zepeda knocked in Green with a single to center.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Justin Miller can be reached at 749-4714. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.