Errors help Sox to win
California Collegiate League action usually signals more intense play and crisper defense.
The Salinas County Packers had it half right.
Despite bringing a more spirited game to Marysville, Salinas couldn't do much right defensively. The Gold Sox took advantage of five Packers' errors to post a 7-4 win in the first game of the league series Thursday night.
Salinas actually made three of those errors in the seventh, turning a one-run game into a three-run deficit for the Packers.
“I thought we fought pretty hard today,” said Gold Sox manager Brad Peek. “It wasn't the cleanest game, but I thought we did some good things. We did some good two-strike hitting, which makes pitchers work that much harder.”
Northern Colorado's Craig Ayers (1-0) made his first start of the year for the Gold Sox and was effective. Ayers struck out eight and allowed five hits in five innings, leaving with a 5-2 lead.
He pitched particularly well when he was in trouble, stranding three runners at third base.
“Ayers pitched pretty well,” Peek said. “He could have been more economical with his pitches a little bit. With the wood bats, you always want to challenge the hitters a bit more. I think he could have been a little more aggressive early in the count.”
Brennan Garr picked up his second save in two chances with a scoreless ninth. First baseman A.J. Valentine leaped and speared Ben Cooper's line drive to end the game.
The Gold Sox (4-1, 1-0) broke a 2-2 tie against losing pitcher Ryan Muller (0-1) in the third inning on Valentine's two-run double, which scored Jason Searle and Buddy Morales, who had each singled.
Morales, a catcher from Sacramento State, finished with his most productive day for the Gold Sox, going 3-for-4 and scoring twice.
“I always feel good with the wood bat,” said Morales, who also picked off a runner at first base. “I did concentrate and was focused today and felt pretty good at the plate. I started lifting
weights again. I actually felt pretty tight.”
Even though the Packers closed to 5-4 in the seventh against reliever Wes Porter, Yuba-Sutter added two unearned runs in the bottom half of the inning. Errors by shortstop Willie Hinojosa, second baseman Kellen Walker and pitcher Joe Safken contributed to the rally along with Garr's RBI double.
Neither team played particularly well defensively early in the game either.
The Gold Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. R.C. Dickerson bunted and stole second, and Frank Jeney walked and raced to second on a wild pitch. Searle tapped the ball to Hinojosa, who tried for the easy out to nail Jeney at third, but threw the ball into the dugout. Jeney scored on the play.
Salinas tied the game 2-2 in the third on an RBI single from Cooper, and an error by Searle in right field contributed to the second run.
Notes: Packers first base coach Chris Lewis was ejected in the fourth inning after arguing Morales' pickoff ... There have been 14 batters hit in the Gold Sox' first five games, seven of those by Yuba-Sutter pitchers ... Ryan Angel, a freshman from San Jose State, made his first appearance of the year for the Gold Sox and started in left field. He was 1-for-3 with a run scored ... Former Gold Sox Jake McCormick is listed on the Salinas roster, but is finishing up school at Oregon State. McCormick posted a 3.23 ERA with the Beavers this past spring.
Appeal-Democrat assistant sports editor Matt O'Donnell can be reached at 749-4796. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.