Porter pleasant surprise for Gold Sox
Wes Porter was just one of five community college players listed as non-roster, fill-in players to begin the 2004 collegiate wood bat season.
At the time, Porter wasn't even sure which four-year university he would attend in the fall.
It's quite a different scenario with three weeks left in the Gold Sox season.
Porter has turned into one of manager Brad Peek's most reliable relievers, appearing in a team-high 17 games while posting three saves while striking out 40 and only walking five in 322/3 innings.
The left-handed Porter, who will walk on at San Jose State after playing at Yuba College last spring, even pitched well in two of the three Santa Barbara Forester games in a first-place showdown series last weekend.
The Foresters' burly hitters were often left flailing when trying to connect with Porter's breaking ball.
“He's become a big-time money guy for us,” Peek said. “We put him in during tough, pressure situations, and he's done a great job. He throws a lot of strikes, and he's kept us in a lot of games. I couldn't be happier with that guy.”
Peek isn't sure if there's anything mechanically Porter has changed since the spring season. Porter logged 732/3 innings for the 49ers, although his ERA was 5.25.
“I don't know, maybe playing at a higher level has made him even better,” Peek said.
Porter and Yuba-Sutter begin a four-game, three-team homestand today. The Solano Thunderbirds are first, followed by two against the Sacramento Scorch and one against the San Luis Obispo Blues. The Thunderbirds and Blues are California Coastal League opponents.
The Gold Sox (29-11, 12-8) are smarting a bit after dropping three of last four, all of those losses to league opponents. First-place Santa Barbara has opened up a three-game lead on second-place Yuba-Sutter.
Peek said several players are healthier than they were last week, including center fielder R.C. Dickerson, third baseman Kyle Maunus and outfielder Jason Searle.
However, reliever Logan Ardis (tendentious in throwing hand) and Vince DeCoito (back spasms) are still day to day.
Peek is also looking to get first baseman A.J. Valentine and second baseman/outfielder Frank Jeney out of hitting funks.
“The last three or four games, Jeney has struggled a little bit,” Peek said. “But the last time that happened, he caught fire, so hopefully that will happen again.”
The Scorch will make their first appearance in Marysville. Sacramento features Sutter High graduate Zack Zwissig and infielder Anthony Manuel, who played a fill-in game for the Gold Sox earlier this year.
The Thunderbirds came into play Wednesday winning eight of their last nine but are still 6-9 in league play. Manager Phil Swimley said he will throw Craig Eagle in today's contest against Yuba-Sutter's Craig Ayers (4-2, 1.94).
Swimley said he's not shocked that his team's record hasn't been as good as last season.
“We had some guys signed (to pro contracts) that we didn't plan on,” he said. “We've also had a rash of injuries, so we've kind of re-tooled the roster.”
The Blues are 7-11 in CCL action. Yuba-Sutter and San Luis Obispo have split their four meetings this year.
“We just want to get back on track,” Peek said. “We only have three weeks left in the year, so we want to finish strong.”
Appeal-Democrat assistant sports editor Matt O'Donnell can be reached at 749-4796. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.