Sun sets on season
Monday, August 8, 2005 - A.J. Valentine's summer collegiate season couldn't have gone more perfect.
After a spring of uncertainty at Chico State that ended in his release from the team, the junior wound up at Cal State Stanislaus. He was forced to red shirt and never saw live game pitching.
There was no one more happier than Valentine to begin the summer with the Gold Sox.
Valentine's RBI-single in the a five-run first inning set an all-time Gold Sox record for hits in a season, and Yuba-Sutter easily finished off the 2005 slate with a 15-0 pounding of the Solano Mudcats for a three-game series sweep.
Jesse Rodgers finished with three hits and four RBIs, including a two-run double in the five-run eighth, and Cole Koester added three hits, an RBI and four runs scored. Jonny Norfolk and Jason Searle added two hits and an RBI apiece.
“The guys were pretty excited and it was just a domino effect,” Gold Sox manager Brad Peek said. “One guy hit the ball well and then the next guy and the next guy.”
The Gold Sox improved to 10-0 over the Mudcats in three seasons and belted out 47 hits in the series, including 17 Sunday.
Valentine, who was named the team's Most Valuable Player in a pre-game ceremony, passed R.C. Dickerson's mark of 68 hits with a double down the line in right field in his first at-bat. He finished the night 3-for-4, including a single in the seventh and a two-RBI double down the right-field line in the eighth.
“He has been hot all year and that's the reason he is the MVP,” Peek said. “He has come up big for us all year long.”
Valentine was an unexpected power at the plate after his shaky spring but led the Gold Sox in five offensive categories, including runs (33), hits (71), doubles (17), home runs (4) and RBIs (44).
“I was just happy I had a place to play for the summer,” the third-year first baseman said. “For two years I was just one of the guys, but this year I was a leader and to put up numbers to follow it, was incredible.”
Wes Porter, who experienced a difficult spring at San Jose State, used his nasty off-speed pitches to handcuff the Mudcats hitters, earning his second victory of the season.
“I was well aware this would be my last outing in a Gold Sox uniform, and I just wanted to go out with a bang and end on a positive note,” said Porter. “It was good to end the second half on a good note. Everything was going for me and I didn't have a doubt.”
Porter worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings, scattering four hits, fanning six and walking three. He allowed a runner past second just once and got out of that jam by absolutely baffling Joe Baker on a knee-buckling breaking ball for an inning-ending strike out.
“He had a tough start in the first part, but the last four or five weeks he has pitched great and will have a lot of confidence going into San Jose State,” Peek said. “He was just the same old Wes Porter. He mixed it up and would sneak in a fast ball that they weren't expecting.”
The electricity of a festive pre-game ceremony poured over into the Gold Sox half of the first inning, and Mudcats starter Jesse Camacho couldn't quiet the emotion.
Camacho didn't last an out, allowing a lead off walk to Matt Vance and then five straight singles, including RBI hits from Valentine, Doug Thennis and Searle. He was pulled for Brandon Aldridge, who got the first out of the inning and gave up five hits and three runs in five innings.
“That first inning set the tone for the rest of the game,” Valentine said. “I guess it was just a way to say ‘thank you' to everyone.”
The Gold Sox made it a real laugher after the five-run eighth. Rodgers and Valentine hit back-to-back two-RBI doubles, and Koester's third hit of the night brought home a run.
A pair of sacrifice-flies by Vance and Rodgers scored Norfolk and Koester, respectively.
The first of Vance's two RBIs came in the fifth on a single to left, scoring Billy Sinacori. Koester scored on an error for a 8-0 lead.
Rodgers' first RBI, a single to center in the third, brought home Koester.