Huff part of pitching trio leading Sox
Saturday, July 9, 2005 - The “Big Three” of Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito may no longer exist with the Oakland Athletics, but the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox may soon claim the nickname for three of its starting pitchers.
Matt Huff (4-2) became the third Gold Sox pitcher to reach four wins, joining Kyle Hill (4-0) and Tyler Pearson (4-1) after baffling the Oakland Expos through seven innings Saturday, allowing just one hit, while striking out 12 and walking a batter in a dominating 8-0 Horizon Air Summer Series victory.
Hill picked up the victory in the series opener Friday night, allowing three runs on eight hits in seven innings of work to stay perfect. Pearson will go for his fifth victory tonight in the finale of the three-game set.
Huff had a no-hitter going through 51/3 innings until Marysville High graduate Daniel Hayes touched him for a bloop-single into center in the sixth. The Expos couldn't touch his off-speed pitches and went down looking six times, in order in the seventh.
Huff faced just two batters over the minimum through seven innings.
“He is the most improved pitcher from the beginning of the season to now,” Gold Sox manager Brad Peek said. “He had a tough spring, came in here with an open mind, wanted to learn and applied everything that (pitching) coach Jason Danna had to teach him.”
Huff was 0-5 with a 7.01 ERA in nine starts at Regis Universip
ty. He's put that in the past and is now starting to dominate more and more in each outing.
“Getting to play one day a
week helps, and I just prepare up until then,” Huff said. “I had a rough spring, and we finished around .500, but I struggled with strikeouts and throwing my fastball. Out here, I'm just dialed in and things are starting to click.”
Huff struck out 47 and walked 36 in 13 appearances with Regis. He has already fanned 42 and walked just 15 in eight appearances with the Gold Sox.
“I went after (the Expos) a lot early with my fast ball and then relied on my slider for strikeouts,” Huff said. “That was a good pitch for me tonight.”
Matt Vance became the first Gold Sox player not named A.J. Valentine to hit a home run this season, launching a lead-off shot in the first inning over the left field wall above the Diamond Palace sign, half way up the netting. He came back with a two-RBI double to the right-center gap in the Gold Sox' five-run fifth inning.
“To be quite honest, I was more impressed with the double with runners in scoring position,” Peek said. “He hit it the other way, and that's what we want. We want them to think sac-fly or a hit the opposite way with a runner on third and less than two outs. Don't get me wrong, the home run was great to lead off the game, but that double was just great hitting.”
Peek wasn't too impressed with his club's approach at the plate, despite its eight hits and eight runs.
“We didn't hit like we are capable of,” Peek said, noting his team stuck out 12 times. “It's something we approached after the game and something we are going to work on in batting practice (today).”
The Gold Sox took the commanding 8-0 lead after the big fifth inning, batting around the order and running off Expos starting pitcher Nik Aurora, who took the loss.
Vance's double scored Jonny Norfolk and Cole Koester in the inning. Doug Thennis, a new signing by the Gold Sox, and Billy Krause each walked and went on to score after Norfolk hit a two-RBI single that just got through the infield at second. Jesse Rodgers was hit by a pitch and later scored when Thennis walked with the bases loaded.
The Gold Sox went up 3-0 after Krause's ground ball to third with the bases loaded was misplayed, allowing Valentine to come home. Koester picked up his sixth RBI of the season after he hit a roller between first and second, allowing Krause to score in the second.
Jason Searle, Valentine and Koester joined Vance with two hits each.
The Gold Sox left the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings, stranding 12 total.
The Expos moved a runner reach third once, in the ninth inning off reliever Jake McKinley.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Justin Miller can be reached at 749-4796. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.