Sox romp over Expos
Of all the craziness surrounding Friday night's contest between the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox and the Oakland Expos was the sight of Gold Sox manager Brad Peek taking the mound in the eighth inning to pitch against his own team.
By the time Peek came on, there was no doubt about the outcome. The Gold Sox knocked around a pair of Expos pitchers for 15 hits and 14 runs over the first seven innings en route to a 14-4 clubbing of the visitors from the Bay Area.
The win keeps the Gold Sox in first place in the Don MuCullough Division, percentage points ahead of the Aloha Knights with a 17-5 record. The Expos came into the first game of the weekend three-game series with the worst record among Horizon Air Summer Series teams with a dismal 1-9 record in the series, 1-17 overall.
The game nearly didn't come off as planned. The Expos only had seven players in uniform 20 minutes before the first pitch. The Gold Sox ended up lending pitchers Matt Huff and Wes Porter to the Expos to start the game.
“It was a bad situation for them,” said Peek, still in his Expos uniform he borrowed for his one inning of relief work. “They were hurting for players as they had some either back out or couldn't make it up. We gave them a pair of our pitchers to use. They promised to have a full team for this weekend's games.”
With Gold Sox players in opposing uniforms, the home team immediately jumped on starting Expos pitcher Rick Chin. Jesse Rodgers walked with one out as A.J. Valentine came to the plate. With Peek putting on the run-and-hit sign, Rodgers took off for second on the pitch. Not only did Valentine make contact, he drilled the ball over the right field fence for his fourth home run of the season and a quick 2-0 lead. Valentine still remains the only Gold Sox player to hit a home run this season.
“That run-and-hit was executed as good as you can do,” Peek said. “A.J.'s hit set the tone for us tonight.”
The Gold Sox added two more runs in the second. A walk to Cole Koester and a double by Matt Vance set the stage for Rodgers to single over second base scoring both runners.
Valentine and Mike Wilkes had RBI singles in the fourth to up the lead to 6-0.
Lost in the confusion of players in different uniforms and different positions was the pitching of Gold Sox starter Kyle Hill. He improved to 4-0 on the season with seven innings of solid pitching. He struck out five and allowed seven hits.
“This is Kyle's fourth or fifth good outing in a row for us,” said Peek. “He's keeping the ball down and being more consistent with his pitches.”
Junior Contreras and Billy Sinacori did the pitching chores over the final two innings. It was Contreras' third appearance while Sinacori went to the mound for the first time.
The game officially became a rout in the sixth as 10 Gold Sox came to the plate and produced six runs on four hits. The big hit was a two-run double to the wall by Koester. Sinacori drove in another run on a single, and Valentine notched his fourth RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly.
After two more runs in the seventh, Peek surprised not only the crowd at All Seasons RV Stadium but his own players as well when he came on to pitch the eighth inning for the Expos.
“I had talked about it with the Expos manager just before the game about the possibility,” he said. “Our team didn't know anything about it.”
Peek gave up a leadoff double to Valentine and an infield single to Contreras before buckling down to get the next three Gold Sox players, Jake McKinley, Johnny Norfolk and Sinacori to fly out to the outfield to finish his inning without being scored upon.
“A.J. hit my hesitation pitch for a solid double, but I got Billy out on my eephus pitch,” Peek jokingly said.
Valentine had three hits to break an 2-for-21 slump over the past two weeks. Koester, Vance, Rodgers and Wilkes collected two hits apiece.