Ayers solid as Sox bomb Thunderbirds
Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox starter Craig Ayers took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and a sacrifice fly that wasn't added just about the only intrigue to a game that lost its mystery in the first two innings at All-Seasons RV Stadium Thursday night.
Gold Sox coach Brad Peek said Ayers' performance, five scoreless innings on one hit, three walks and five strike outs, came despite his guy not being his usual self.
“Ayers really wasn't on his game, not like he has been. He seemed a little out of synch, but he has great stuff,” said Peek after his club swatted the Solano Thunderbirds 11-1 in a California Collegiate League game.
“He managed his game and battled. I think he pitched better in the fourth and fifth innings than he did in the first three innings.”
Ayers (2-0) was touched for an unearned run in the third, but actually surrendered his first and only hit in the fifth - a two-out double by Solano catcher William Pauly to left.
Ayers gave way to Kyle Maunus in the sixth. He worked two scoreless innings, while Gary Simmons closed out the game, allowing Solano's only other hit, a single in the ninth.
“Kyle Maunus had his best outing. He threw very well, and his velocity was up,” said Peek, who pulled Ayers to keep him fresh in this long stretch of 27 games in 29 days. “And Simmons keeps showing he belongs here.”
Offensively, the Gold Sox put the game away early, scoring six runs in the first and three more times in the second off Solano starter Eric Van Slyke (1-1).
Jason Searle knocked in one and Brennan Garr drove in two to make it a 3-0 game, but it was the next run that added a twist to the rally.
With Searle on third and Garr on second, designated hitter Frank Jeney lifted a flyball into shallow right field.
Thunderbirds' outfielder Ryan Witges appeared to be in position to catch the ball, but let it drop in front of him.
Searle, who had gone back to third to tag, broke for the plate, arriving at the same time the ball did.
Searle and Pauly collided a few feet up the line, sending both players sprawling. Searle was able to get back to his knees and lunged to the plate before Pauly could apply a tag.
Searle said he was looking for the next batter, A.J. Valentine, to show him whether he had to slide or not when the collision happened.
“I couldn't see (Valentine) and I just accidentally ran into the catcher,” said Searle, who had three hits, including a run-scoring double in the fourth.
Searle said his success Thursday started Tuesday.
“I hit the ball pretty hard so I felt like I was right there. I got a few pitches to hit tonight and I was able to drive them,” Searle added.
Garr would score on a single by Valentine, and Jeney made it 6-0, scoring on an errant pickoff throw to first. It was the third error of the inning by the Thunderbirds.
R.C. Dickerson started the second-inning rally with a single. He stole second and scored on Cameron Shick's single to right. Three batters later, Garr knocked in his third run with a sacrifice fly, and Buddy Morales made it 9-0, scoring on a passed ball.
Van Slyke allowed 10 runs - nine earned - on eight hits. He walked two, hit three batters and struck out three.
The Gold Sox added another run in the fifth as Valentine doubled and two batters later scored on a sacrifice fly by leadoff hitter Ryan Angel.
“It was good to beat these guys,” Peek said. “We lost a tough one to them Tuesday. We had some opportunities and didn't take advantage of them. (Thursday) we did.”