Gold Sox pull out victory
Just after the winning run crossed the plate, Gold Sox manager Brad Peek was left shaking his head.
Peek might have been wondering if he appeared invisible, standing at his third-base coaching box.
It was that kind of bizarre night for Yuba-Sutter, which ignored just about every sign imaginable but still beat the Bend (Ore.) Elks 4-3 to complete a two-game, nonleague sweep Sunday night in Marysville.
The winning run scored in the bottom of the ninth on a botched suicide squeeze when Frank Jeney was seemingly hung out after Ryan Angel pulled back his bunt attempt. Still, Bend catcher Chris O'Brien's throw hit Jeney, allowing him to score easy.
Peek had actually pulled Angel aside before the pitch and asked the left fielder what he wanted to do.
“I asked him, ‘Do you want to hit or squeeze?' He told me, ‘Whatever you want to do,' so I said, ‘Why don't we squeeze? It will be good for the fans.' ”
Despite three strange final innings, it was a nice Father's Day gift for A.J. Valentine, who along with trainer Erik Lambert, are the only dads on the team. Valentine's pinch-hit single against starting pitcher Ben Rowe in the seventh inning tied the game 2-2.
Valentine then laid down a beautiful bunt single to help the ninth-inning rally.
“This is my fourth Father's Day,” Valentine said. “I think I had to work last year, so I'd say this one is my best so far.”
The Gold Sox looked like they might be shut out for the first time this year against Rowe, who just completed his senior year at Oregon State. Rowe took a perfect game into the fifth and a 2-0 shutout into the seventh before Yuba-Sutter finally adjusted.
“I think we finally started to figure him out,” said Jeney, who had a big hit in the seventh as well. “I think the biggest thing was we went opposite field on him. We had two hits to the right side from our right-handed hitters and then A.J.'s hit to the left side.”
Valentine single knocked home Cameron Shick and Brennan Garr to tie the game 2-2. Garr actually ran through Peek's stop sign but slid home safely. Ricky Bambino then followed with a single to right to score Jeney for the 3-2 lead.
However, Bend tied the game again in a bizarre eighth inning. Logan Ardis, in his second game since joining the team from Stanford, walked Chris Kundra to lead off the inning.
Ardis (1-0) threw a fastball up and in on Mike Terry, who ducked to try and get out of the way. However, the ball hit his bat, and then trickled in front of home plate. Bambino, the catcher, threw to first for the out, but Jeney threw the ball into the Elks' dugout, trying to nail Kundra.
Garr, the third baseman, and Valentine, the first baseman, had charged on the play, so Bambino made a last-ditch effort to try and take the throw to third.
“That was such a freaky play,” Peek said. “The batter doesn't run, and everyone just stops.”
The Gold Sox actually had R.C. Dickerson at third base with no outs in the bottom of the eighth but failed to drive him home. That got Peek thinking squeeze.
In the ninth, reliever Eric Dingwall hit Jeney, gave up the bunt single to Valentine and then walked Bambino to load the bases. Jason Searle struck out, and Dingwall went to 3 and 0 on Angel before throwing his strike.
Jeney scored, but Peek was still wondering - how?
“I guess we'll take the ugly win, even though it seemed like we didn't deserve it,” he said.
The Elks scored an unearned run against Gold Sox starter Vince DeCoito in the third inning. Mike Rundle singled, moved to second on Aaron O'Dell's groundout. He then scored when shortstop Mark Steinbeck, battling the sun, dropped O'Brien's liner.
Bend went ahead 2-0 in the fifth when Tyler Graham ripped a double to left, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Chris Kundra's sacrifice fly to left. Angel bounced the throw to home plate in a close play. Peek argued the call with home plate umpire Steve Graves to no avail.
Garr broke up Ben Rowe's perfect game when he beat out a slow roller with one out in the fifth. The Gold Sox actually threatened to score in the inning as well after Kyle Maunus walked with two outs. However, Rowe recovered, blowing a high fastball past Bambino to end the inning.
Notes: Garr extended his hitting streak to nine games ... Jeney has reached base in 15 of 16 games ... Reliever Wes Porter (Yuba College), who pitched the sixth, struck out two and now has 15 in 11 1/3 innings ... Peek is expected to start Nic Waechter (2-0, 2.70) and Craig Ayers (2-0, 1.35) in road games against the San Luis Obispo Blues on Tuesday and Wednesday.