Sox fly past Sultans
August 5, 2006 - Yuba-Sutter first baseman A.J. Valentine has been begging to pitch for three years.
Friday he got his chance.
“He pitched a few innings in 2003,” said Yuba-Sutter manager Brad Peek. “He's been begging me to pitch again ever since.”
Valentine didn't exactly enter the game in a save situation: Yuba-Sutter led the visiting Suisun City Sultans 17-3 when he came in with two outs in the ninth inning.
Michael Hall faced the first two batters of the inning, retiring both before Peek made the move.
Matt Edgecombe was warming up in the bullpen, and he came jogging toward the infield when Peek called time from the third-base coach's box.
But instead of going to the mound, Edgecombe stopped at first base and asked for Valentine's glove.
“I had no idea it was going to happen,” Valentine said. “Edgecombe was warming up, but with two outs I didn't understand what was going on.”
“It couldn't have worked out any better,” Peek said.
Once Valentine understood, he switched gloves with Edgecombe and climbed the mound to face Suisun City's Matt Esler, who had four singles in his first four at-bats in the game.
Valentine threw two quick strikes - both fastballs in the low 80s on the radar gun. Esler fouled off the next fastball, and then Valentine missed wide with a knuckleball.
One more fastball did the trick though, and Esler swung through the outside pitch, striking out to end the inning and the game.
Valentine wasn't the only one to get a chance to try something different - five regular Gold Sox pitchers batted in the bottom of the eighth inning, and amazingly they went a combined 4-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs.
With no outs and Valentine on first, Given Kutz doubled to move Valentine to third, and Josh Roberts followed with another double to drive in both runners.
Ryan Zaft was next, and he legged out a single on a dribbler down the third-base line.
After an out, Kody Keroher singled to bring home Roberts.
Tyler Pearson also had an at-bat, but he struck out to end the inning.
The Gold Sox (39-9) have been aiming for 40 wins all season, and they are now one win away with two games yet to play.
Yuba-Sutter scored two runs in the second, four in the third, two in the fourth and fifth, three in the sixth and four in the eighth.
Suisun City scored single runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings.
Starter Matt Collins (4-0) went five and a third to earn his fourth win of the year. He gave up three earned runs, struck out four and walked one.
Michael Hall relieved Collins in the sixth. He allowed no runs and two hits with three strikeouts and a walk in three innings.
Suisun City starter A.J. Contreras (0-1) took the loss.
Joél Torres and Doug Thennis both had four-hit nights to lead the
Yuba-Sutter offense. Torres now has a 13-game hitting streak.
Notes: During a Suisun City pitching change in the fifth inning, Pearson, Kutz, Edgecombe and Keroher climbed on top of the first-base dugout to lead the crowd in the “YMCA.” ... Collins also had a hit for the Gold Sox on Friday. ... Kutz will start for Yuba-Sutter tonight against the Sultans ... The 39 wins ties the Gold Sox's collegiate franchise record. The team won 39 games in a 54-game season in 2004.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Nathan D. Collier can be reached at 749-4714. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.