Sunday, June 26, 2005 - Matt Huff was ready for the challenge that awaited him on Sunday night.
The Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox starting pitcher was facing off against the Oakland Eagles' Loren Moneypenny, who was making his first start after throwing a no-hitter against the Salinas Packers on June 17.
Moneypenny was decent on the mound, but Huff was absolutely dominant as the Gold Sox swept the three-game Horizon Air Summer Series set with a 6-2 victory.
It was a beautiful ending to a week that began with two consecutive losses for the Gold Sox, the first on Tuesday at the Eagles, 13-5, and the second against the visiting Solano Thunderbirds, 9-7.
“I'm tickled to death with this performance based on what we had to get through this week,” Gold Sox manager Brad Peek said. “We got our butts kicked Tuesday and we deserve to win that one on Thursday. We just came in and outslugged (the Eagles) on Friday and hit them again hard Saturday. We also had two great pitching performances and clutch hitting. I'm really proud of the kids.”
The Gold Sox out-hit their Bay Area foe 32-21 and outscored the Eagles 26-11.
Huff (3-1) earned his third straight win and followed up a five inning two-hit performance a week ago with a seven-inning gem, allowing just an unearned run on three hits. He struck out five and walked three.
“He has been steadily improving and every week he gets a little bit better,” Peek said.
Huff gave up a lead-off single to Aaron Early to start the game, walked Terrel Harbin and Tim Torres but retired the next nine batters he faced before walking another.
“I was pretty juiced,” Huff said. “I wanted to come out and throw strikes. I settled in the second and third, and then gained some momentum. I was dialed in on all my pitches and kept them down. That was a big key for me tonight.”
Huff allowed his only run in the seventh after Matt Kavanaugh doubled to the wall in right and moved to third after Zach Weidenaar bobbled the ball. Kamaile Santos then knocked Kavanaugh home after grounding out, and Huff got Clint Eastman to pop out to end the inning.
Jake McKinley pitched a perfect eighth and Jason Peters finished up with a solid ninth.
Moneypenny (2-1) lasted five innings, allowing three runs on four hits, while fanning five and walking five, three of which went on to score.
“He just wasn't that sharp tonight,” Eagles manager Brant Cummings said. “He pitched well, but three of those walks scored, and that will kill you. He pitched well enough to keep us in the game, but we didn't swing the bats well.”
The Gold Sox took a 5-0 lead after putting two on the board in the sixth off reliever Alex Mauricio, who gave up three runs and four hits in two innings.
Kole Koester is just 3-for-his-last-16 at the plate but picked up his second RBI of the season after a sacrifice-bunt scored Matt Vance. Koester hit a double in the eighth inning.
Mike Wilkes scored after Weidnenaar's hit to right was dropped for an error. Wilkes walked and moved to second on Koester's bunt.
Jason Searle extended his hitting streak to seven games with an RBI-single, his only hit of the game, off Moneypenny in the fifth inning to score Jesse Rodgers.
Jordan Prado, who has reached base safely in 18 consecutive games, hit a roller through the hole between short and third to bring A.J. Valentine home from second base. Prado is 16-for-his-last-37 (.432) and has a five-game hit streak going.
“I've just been working with the hitting instructor, working on my timing and I'm seeing the ball well,” Prado said.
Valentine picked up his 23rd RBI of the season after his ground out to second scored Weidenaar. Weidenaar walked and moved to third on Rodgers' only hit of the game, a single to left.
Vance's third straight single, a shallow hit to left, brought home Searle for a 6-1 Gold Sox lead.