Morales, Gold Sox hold on for thriller over Eagles
Gold Sox catcher Buddy Morales might have felt a bit like Brian Bosworth taking the brunt of a Bo Jackson hit on Monday Night Football.
Unlike Bosworth, however, Morales came out on top, holding onto the ball after the collision at home plate with burly Mike Armstrong and managing a throw to third to nearly nail another baserunner.
With that play in the seventh, Yuba-Sutter (24-8) kept the game scoreless and went on to score two in the eighth and held on for a 2-0 thriller over the Oakland Eagles Thursday night to open a four-game, nonleague series.
“I've been in quite a few collisions, but that was one of the toughest ones,” said Morales, who was 2-for-3.
Gold Sox shortstop Mark Steinbeck, who doubled home Morales and A.J. Valentine for the only two runs of the game, was impressed that Morales was able to recover.
“That was the worst collision I've ever seen personally,” Steinbeck said.
Morales received a patch for a cut around his eye but returned to the game. The catcher from Sacramento State actually started the winning rally in the eighth when he singled against Oakland pitcher Ben Buker.
Valentine followed Morales in the eighth with an infield single. Then Steinbeck cracked a double down the left-field line on a 2 and 2 count to score Morales and Valentine. Steinbeck actually failed to lay down a bunt earlier in the at-bat and was forced to swing away.
“It was a slider and he left it up,” Steinbeck said. “It was one of his few mistakes all night.”
Buker (3-1), a right-hander from Sierra College, locked horns with Yuba-Sutter's threesome of Tony Biale, Gary Simmons (2-0) and Blake Knabenshue, who earned his second save.
Biale, who is recovering from three arm operations, went the first five innings and picked up 10 ground-ball outs while allowing only two singles, striking out two and walking no one.
Gold Sox manager Brad Peek thought it was Biale's best performance this season. Biale extended his scoreless streak to 231/3 innings.
Peek was equally impressed with Simmons, who tossed three scoreless innings to earn the win. Simmons worked out of several jams, including the crucial one in the seventh.
“That's really the first game where Gary has had to pitch in a really tight game,” Peek said.
Still, the spotlight seemed to shine brightest on Morales, who actually threw out Armstrong on a steal attempt to end the game.
The Eagles (21-10) threatened to score in the sixth as well, but Yuba-Sutter's fill-in third baseman Jeff Walker threw Travis DeCoito out at home after a slow roller from Bob Saunders.
However, the seventh was even more dramatic. After one out, Simmons walked Armstrong and allowed a bad-hop single to Casey Garrison. Terrell Arbin singled with center fielder R.C. Dickerson charging and throwing on the run to the plate.
The ball two-hopped Morales, who was forced to take a shot to the face from Armstrong. He flipped but made an excellent throw to third and appeared to nail Garrison. Despite the safe call, Simmons struck out DeCoito for the final out.
Peek pointed out that Morales already had his face cut during a “Fan Fest” exhibition a day before the season started.
“He'll have two scars to remember the summer of 2004,” Peek said.